Rich Hess on fitness: Exercise for your mental health

We have long touted the benefits of exercise for your physical health, but evidence suggests there are mental benefits as well:

Exercise can help reduce anxiety. A small percentage of the population has an anxiety disorder requiring treatment, but even healthy individuals experience anxiety and other stress-related emotions. Studies have shown that physical activity and fitness are related to anxiety reduction. In addition to how you feel, exercise has been shown to reduce stress-related high blood pressure.

Exercise can help reduce depression. Study results consistently show exercise related to a significant reduction in depression. Results can be seen as soon as one exercise session and can last well after exercise is ceased. Larger antidepressant effects are realized when exercise programs are longer than nine weeks, and involve more frequent and more intense exercise.

Exercise puts you in a better mood. Although there are few actual studies, exercise has the ability to lift your spirits.

Exercise can help you sleep better. After exercise, sleep is found to be deeper and longer. A better night’s sleep results in more recuperation and more energy.

Exercise can increase your self-esteem. Exercise will help you feel better about yourself. You feel better because you know you are getting healthier. You feel better as you get results and have a more positive self-image. If you have kids who have self-image or self-esteem problems, exercise may be part of the solution.

Exercise can make you happier. Exercise stimulates the body’s natural release of endorphins. These endorphins are natural painkillers and can make you feel happy.

Get some exercise, for the health of your body and your mind.

Rich Hess is executive director and fitness trainer at the Middlecreek Area Community Center. You can reach Rich at, or the MACC at

This article originally published on The Daily Item