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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / July 2016 / Exercise Your Way to Better Mental Health

Exercise Your Way to Better Mental Health

It’s well-known that regular physical activity is tied to better cardiovascular health, but did you know that scientific research also shows that exercise has a positive effect on our mental health?  So how exactly does it work?  Here are six mental health benefits of exercise:

  1. Endorphin Release – When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins.  Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body.
  2. Stress Reduction – Exercise is an excellent way to relieve tension in the body and relax muscles, both of which help reduce stress.
  3. Distraction – Exercising can provide a distraction from a cycle of negative thoughts associated with depression or the flow of constant worry associated with anxiety.
  4. Better Sleep – Exercise can lead to improved sleep habits over time.  If you exercise close to bedtime, try yoga or gentle stretching to help promote sleep. 
  5. Increase Productivity – Exercise causes the brain to release chemicals that affect attention and focus.  Next time you’re hitting a wall at work or on a project, take a break to go for a quick walk.
  6. Improves Self-Confidence – Exercise can make you feel strong and empowered, boosting your self-worth.  Accomplishing smalls goals related to your fitness provides a sense of achievement.

Be patient with yourself and ask for help if you need it. Sometimes depression, anxiety and stress drain our energy and make exercise seem impossible. If that’s the case, think about taking advantage of one of the WELL-U programs to help you get moving again. The Strong Employee Assistance Program can help you evaluate your needs. And remember that Behavioral Health Partners is here for eligible individuals with mental health services for depression, anxiety, and stress.

Behavioral Health Partners and the Strong Employee Assistance Program are brought to you by the YOURhealth employee wellness program.

Steven P Brown | 7/8/2016

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