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Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Posted on June 9, 2020 by Iliana Stoilova

The X-Force Body program is built around making you leaner, stronger and healthier – both physically and mentally. Yes, you read that right: In addition to improving your physical condition, consistent exercise can have a positive effect on your mental health as well.

You’ve probably heard people talk about “a runner’s high” after completing a high intensity workout. But it goes even deeper than that momentary bliss. Regular exercise, especially the combination of high and low intensity that your X-Force Body trainer recommends for you, is effective at

  • Increasing a feeling of wellbeing
  • Boosting brain power
  • Increasing confidence
  • Energizing you
  • Relieving anxiety and stress
  • Reducing symptoms of depression – maybe as well as medication

The science behind how it works

Exercise doesn’t just affect the body; it affects the brain as well. The hippocampus region of the brain is involved in regulating emotions, as well as memory and learning. However, doctors have discovered that the hippocampus is smaller in people who are depressed. According to a Harvard health study, low-intensity exercise spurs the release of proteins that cause nerve cells to grow in this area. Therefore, they believe low-intensity exercise that can support nerve cell growth in the hippocampus can help relieve depression. What’s also interesting is that many antidepressants work based on this same theory – they increase neurogenesis (support nerve cell growth) in the hippocampus. Studies show that a brisk walk can deliver several hours of temporary relief, similar to taking an aspirin to relieve a headache. For some people, a routine of regular exercise can work as well as antidepressants.

This isn’t just one doctor’s opinion either. There have been more than 25 studies done on the effects of exercise for improving mental health over the past 30 years. The majority found that even walking 30 minutes a day can not only treat but prevent future depression, too. What researchers came to believe is that humans are “hardwired” to feel good when they work out. And they caution that the opposite is true: We’re not created to be sedentary beings.

We tend to separate the mind from the body – as if the neck is a big dividing line and what goes on in the brain isn’t connected. However, we know the physical impact stress has. It’s not just restricted to the mind. Your entire body feels it because of cortisol hormones pumping and nerves sending signals, from chest pain to upset stomach and muscle tension. So, the depression studies show that it works the other way too: If your body feels better, your mind feels better.

It’s estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety. For them and for people with panic disorders, exercise can be a great way to release tension and redirect the mind by focusing solely on the activity at hand – like giving maximum effort to the slow, controlled release of a weight during strength training, for example. There’s something very rewarding and Zen-like about the concentration it takes.

Exercise also promotes confidence. There’s nothing like the feeling of achieving a goal, from seeing a five-pound weight loss to noticing your increased strength. When you accomplish an exercise goal, it gives you the emotional stamina to succeed at other life goals too. You have more energy to take on any obstacle and overcome challenges. Plus, when confidence issues are tied to body image perception, there’s nothing like seeing a toned, sexy body in the mirror to feel better!

That’s why the X-Force Body program is structured the way it is. Our pillars of regular exercise, diet, sleep, stress management and hydration all work together to create a regimen that provides total self-care. So, if a program can help you look good, feel strong and boost your mental health, why not make it part of your new lifestyle? What have you got to lose – except stress?

Take the first step.

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"I feel stronger. I sleep better. My eating habits have completely changed. I have a lot of energy. I was also taking thyroid medications when I started. Since then, I'm down to half of the medications I was taking." *

Maria Torri, Palm Harbor

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    Busy people don’t have time to waste on exercise that doesn’t work. At X-Force Body, our mission is to inspire you to become leaner, stronger and healthier so you can live your best life. We deliver 30-minute strength workouts, twice per week with an expert coach. We will help you look and feel your best in a fraction of the time.

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