Exercise and Mental Health


Everyone has mental health, and we all deserve to take care of it to the same extent we take care of our physical health. Luckily, taking care of our physical health through exercise can also help treat and prevent negative mental health and emotions. 

According to current research,1,23 we know that physical activity is a powerful defense against depressive symptoms, and regular exercise can prevent mental illness. 

Exercise is even used as a cost-effective treatment in addition to traditional therapies and has achieved significant positive results to treat mental health.

Due to the abstract nature of mood and emotions, it is still unclear exactly how exercise makes us feel better. One explanation is that the endorphins that the body produces act as the body’s natural painkillers, making the body feel better and reducing symptoms of fatigue and depression. Another important hypothesis is that exercise increases the rate that neurotransmitters are produced, released, and processed, leading to better regulation of emotion and more repair and regeneration of brain cells. 

Given that exercise is proven to make us feel better, how come sometimes we feel worse after exercise? How you feel after exercising can vary based on how intense the exercise was, your fitness level, and exercise experience. In general, if you don’t feel well during exercise, it may be overriding the “post-exercise high” that is beneficial to your mental wellbeing. So, it is important to monitor how you feel during your exercise and what intensity you are performing at. If you are new to regular exercise, be sure to be patient with yourself and check in with your body. If your current exercise method is something you are dreading or makes you feel worse after, it is time to change up the routine. If you are an experienced exerciser and find yourself getting bored during sessions, it is time to challenge yourself with higher intensity workouts. A key way to make sure your exercise habits are helping your mood and emotions, is to monitor them alongside your activity levels and keep track of your moods. 

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health so be sure to take care of both! If you need help setting up an exercise routine to get started or need to enhance your current routine, book now with one of our exercise specialists at Ace Sports Clinic.


1. Goodwin RD. Association between physical activity and mental disorders among adults in the United States. Prev Med. 2003 Jun;36(6):698-703. doi: 10.1016/s0091-7435(03)00042-2. PMID: 12744913.
2. Schuch FB, Vancampfort D, Richards J, Rosenbaum S, Ward PB, Stubbs B. Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias. J Psychiatr Res. 2016 Jun;77:42-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.02.023. Epub 2016 Mar 4. PMID: 26978184.
3. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0515/p620.html
4. Sy Atezaz Saeed, Cunningham, K., & Bloch, R. M. (2019). Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation. American Family Physician99(10), 620–627. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0515/p620.html