Mental health benefits of exercise

When most of us think about exercise, we think along the lines of weight control, increased energy, and reduced risk of diabetes. However, exercise is much more than that. It also helps with our mental health. The mental health benefits of exercise are as numerous as the benefits to our physical health. It is much better not to have to look for affordable online therapy, especially if you can prevent mental health issues by simply exercising. In this article, we will go over the most important mental health benefits of exercising more frequently.

How does exercise improve your mental health?

The way in which exercise improves your mental health is primarily through reducing the effects of negative mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, exercise will considerably improve mood, cognitive functions, and self-esteem. It is always much better to try exercising first instead of searching for the best online anxiety therapy programs. If the exercise does not work, you can always enroll in a therapy program. However, if it does work, you will be able to save up to thousands of $ on therapy costs.

person doing a side plank in an industrial design space
When your body improves, so does your self-esteem.

To get the most benefits from exercising, you will want to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 3 days a week. You don’t even need to exercise for 30 minutes straight; you can divide the exercise into three 10-minute chunks. Of course, exercising more will increase the benefits up to a point. Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at what exactly might benefit you if you do decide to start exercising.

Check out prices on the best online therapy platforms today!

View Prices
View Prices

The most important mental health benefits of exercise

As mentioned previously, there are numerous mental health benefits of exercise. However, some may be more important than others, at least according to most people. Here are what we believe to be the best benefits you get from exercising:

  • Lower stress
  • Better sleep
  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Enhanced cognitive functions

To be perfectly honest, if you are struggling with mental health issues, exercise alone might not be enough to make you feel better. It might, yes, but you will most likely need to look into online CBT therapy options, for example, to complement your exercise routine. Think about exercise as something “extra” that you are doing to improve your overall health. In fact, exercise is never bad, and you might want to incorporate it into your daily routine, even if you’ve never had any mental health issues to begin with.

Now, let’s take a look at these mental health benefits of exercise in a more in-depth manner.

Exercise lowers your stress levels

The first way in which exercise lowers your stress levels is by increasing your heart rate for a time, which can have the effect of reversing any brain damage that stress might have caused. Furthermore, exercise stimulates the production of useful neurohormones such as norepinephrine. The increased production of these neurohormones will have an effect of improving various brain functions, will allow you to think more clearly, and will have a great effect on your mood.

stressed-out person holding her head while looking at a laptop
Feeling stressed out? Go exercise for a bit, and you will feel better!

However, there is a possibility that your mind is so overcome with mental health issues that you still feel them even if you are exercising. If that happens to be the case, and you are still feeling depressed, you might want to look into the best online therapy for depression programs. By choosing to attend your therapy sessions online, you will basically save the time it would take to get to the therapist’s office and back. You can always use that time to exercise a bit more!

You will be able to sleep better

The second most important benefit (the most important, for some people) is that you will be able to sleep more soundly after exercising. Exercise will increase your body temperature, which will, in turn, have a calming effect on your mind. Furthermore, your circadian rhythm will be more easily regulated, leading to the overall quality of life improvements.

However, to get the most benefits, you will want to avoid exercising too close to your bedtime. Even though it might make you fall asleep easier, you will not get the most benefit. This might sound easy, but some people find it especially difficult, especially those that have OCD. If you find yourself constantly exercising before bed simply because “You have to”, your OCD might be the reason. In that case, you might want to search for online therapy for OCD programs and get the issue under control. That way, you will be able to get the best from both worlds.

Your self-esteem will soar

It is no secret that your physical appearance has a lot to do with your self-esteem. This is especially true if you happen to be overweight. Regardless of the way you look, however, there is always room for improvement. Exercise will get you that improvement. This particular benefit may be most important to teenagers, as they are usually quite self-conscious of their bodies. Additional exercise may even nullify the need to find the best online therapy for teens, something that many teenagers may resort to doing. As a teen, looking into the mirror and seeing that you like the way you look may be all the mental health therapy you need.

Your brain processes will get a considerable boost

Finally, exercise will considerably increase your brain functions. There is a reason why you see most of the top E-athletes (people who play video games as a very lucrative profession) regularly going to the gym. The way that exercise improves your brainpower is done through a process that is called neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells). Furthermore, exercising is proven to reduce memory loss and cognitive decline, as it strengthens the hippocampus, which is responsible for both the learning and memory processes.

person pointing at their own head
Your brain works better when you exercise.

It is readily apparent how big of a benefit this is, especially if you are already undergoing therapy that requires you to focus. For example, some studies show that even the best online DBT treatment can be improved upon if you regularly exercise in addition to it. Lastly, exercise can bring bouts of inspiration with it, as your mind is free while you are exercising.

Check out prices on the best online therapy platforms today!

View Prices
View Prices

Even though any exercise will allow you to reap most, if not all, benefits, some exercises are better than others. That is why our next topic is going to be all about which exercises might be best for improving your mental health.

Best types of exercise for your mental health

Here are the four exercises that have the best effect on your mental health:

  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Aerobic

Of course, if you don’t enjoy any of these, that is not the reason to give up on exercising. Any activity that features moderate tension in your body will provide you with considerable benefits. That being said, if you want to maximize the results, you will want to choose one of the above exercises. Let’s see exactly why that might be the case, starting with:


The simple act of running will do wonders when it comes to controlling your thoughts. In fact, you can get most of the mental health benefits of exercise by simply running.┬áIt will “slow you down” and allow you to focus your mind on the things that you want to focus on. Running is a very straightforward activity, one that does not require you to think about it. However, some parts of your brain (most often the parts of your brain that you don’t want to influence your thoughts) will be devoted to the mechanics.

person running on the road surrounded by nature
Running is one of the best exercises for both mental and physical health.

Many people also report that running allows them to overcome their issues more easily. For example, you may be able to overcome relationship anxiety much easier if you spend at least some of your time running. Needless to say, running is one of the best activities for your physical health, as well as mental health. And the best part? Running is absolutely free! Apart from comfortable running shoes and some spare clothes, you do not need anything else to simply go outside and run!


You might have seen yoga mentioned pretty much everywhere where there’s talk of health. That is due to the fact that yoga is one of the best exercises you can do, full stop. Depending on where you exercise, yoga has the potential to strengthen your social attachments while reducing stress and relieving numerous mental health issues (depression, insomnia, anxiety, etc.). However, yoga is a bit “trickier” than running, and you might want to learn how to do it properly. The best thing to do is to hire a teacher or enroll in a yoga class, where you will find out about all the basic principles and how to move your body in the right way.

Once mastered, yoga is almost unparalleled when it comes to improving your mental health. Did we mention that yoga is an extremely efficient way to burn calories? This last part is something that you can find in all the great exercises.


Next up, we have cycling. The fact of the matter is that some people simply do not like yoga or running. If you are one of them, you might want to consider cycling instead. Cycling features all of the principles behind great exercise but it can be a lot more fun. Plus, you can combine cycling with useful everyday tasks. If you do that, you are not only reaping all the rewards that come from exercising, but you are increasing your overall productivity at the same time. For example, you might want to outfit your bicycle with a shopping bag and do your shopping at the same time. This way, you will “save” the time it takes for you to get to the store and back, as you are effectively exercising while doing so.

person on a bicycle next to a forest, taking advantage of mental health benefits of exercise
Cycling will take you places!


The last amazing exercise that will allow you to reap all the benefits is an aerobic one. The beauty of this particular form of exercise is that it can take many shapes. Do you love being in the water? Water aerobics might be right up your alley. Do you like being around other people that are going through the same exercise as you? Join a gym and enroll in an aerobic program. And if you would much rather practice alone, you can do aerobic exercises from the comfort of your own home. Simply purchase an online aerobic program and play it on your TV, monitor, or phone.

A healthy mind requires a healthy body

As you can see, exercise is excellent for improving your mental health. Even though we have provided you with some of the best exercises, there is always a chance that you simply might not like any of them. If that happens to be the case, you will want to find an exercise that fits your personality.

The key, in fact, with any exercise is that it is predominantly an activity that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running, for example, you might negate all the benefits by introducing additional frustration. On the other hand, if you choose an activity that you genuinely enjoy, you will compound the benefits as the exercise itself will produce more beneficial chemicals in your body. Lastly, you can mix exercise with social activities if you choose team sports as your form of exercise.

Do not feel limited by these options; look at them simply as recommendations that they are. There is no inherently bad exercise, after all, provided that you are not pushing your body to the limit. You can get the mental health benefits of exercise from doing any moderately strenuous physical activity!

Check out prices on the best online therapy platforms today!

View Prices
View Prices

However, if you still find that your mental health state is not ideal, there is always therapy to consider. You can find all the best online therapy providers right here at the Consumer Opinion Guide. Where mental health is concerned, we are your go-to resource! Our expert articles will have all the information you might need! Good luck!

Latest Posts