How prioritizing exercise could jumpstart your mental wellness


If you have ever thought about creating a healthier lifestyle, chances are—at one point or another—you’ve prioritized exercise in your life. In fact, an Insider poll found “get more exercise” was the second most common New Year’s Resolution in 2019. And, with good reason, too. Exercise has proven physical benefits: it can help you get stronger, reduce your risk of heart disease, and maintain a healthy physical lifestyle. And, studies show that exercise has benefits far greater than physical health alone. Exercise releases all of those feel-good hormones: endorphins.

While any exercise is a great place to start, not all physical activity has the same effects. The Mayo Clinic recommends for people to get sweating at least 1.5 to 2 hours a week. And, studies show that not all exercise is created equal, especially when it comes to mental health benefits. A study by psychology researchers in Finland found that the high intensity workouts correlated with an increase in endorphin release. 

Regular exercise is a great way to prioritize your mental wellness to prevent potential mental health challenges. Studies show that it is also a great way to manage depression and anxiety. While not a treatment alone, a study out of Boston University found that exercise can improve treatment outcomes for people experiencing clinical depression. 

Here are a few ways to step up your sweat sessions with your mental wellness top of mind:

  • Look for a confidence boost. One study found a link between self-esteem and physical activity. So, get out of your comfort zone, but also pick things that boost your confidence. Because, there’s nothing better than picking the things that make you think, “Heck, yes. I’m looking AND feeling good.” Basically, exercise can help you channel your inner Lizzo and totally feel yourself. 

  • Find your people. From casual running clubs and social sports teams to cult-following spin studios and next-level crossfit gyms, getting active can also help you connect with a community of similarly-oriented people. So, bring a friend or make some new ones—either way, crush it and ride that endorphin high. 

  • Push through. Exercising can be just as much about physical fitness as it is about mental fortitude: identifying a challenge and meeting it head on. Working towards goals and pushing yourself can show you that you are so, so resilient and you can do absolutely anything. Now, let’s get to work. 

  • Try interval training. According to Medical News Today, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can lead to significantly higher release of endorphins in men than moderate exercise. So, pump iron at a bootcamp, kick it at a running club, or crush a spin class. The HIIT workout world is your oyster.