A healthy body isn't the only benefit to exercising!

Many people focus on the physical benefits of exercise. As wonderful as they are, exercise also does wonders for your mental and emotional state. It helps alleviate such ailments as depression and anxiety. In addition, it helps you build a healthy self-esteem. Exercise also aids in stress reduction and helps you feel excellent.

The immediate mood enhancing effects of exercise are what make it such a perfect way to soothe symptoms of depression. Exercise is capable of improving your mood within five minutes of beginning a moderate intensity workout. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, research shows exercise as having very positive effects on long-term depression. These positive effects reach so far as alleviating the symptoms. Further, exercise keeps symptoms at bay thus preventing a relapse. The Mayo Clinic also points out that “Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.” This fact proves that exercise is a key player in depression recovery.

Jasper Smits, PhD, Co-Director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University, also credits exercise as being therapeutic for people who suffer from anxiety. He suggests that “physical exercise could help to ward off panic attacks.” This is accomplished by exercise acting as a way for sufferers to get acquainted with the symptoms of a panic attack. Panic attacks include symptoms of sweating and increased heart rate. People who are extra sensitive relate these feelings with fear. Exercise brings these same symptoms on, and helps sufferers connect to them in a positive way. They realize the feelings of increased heart rate and sweating won't hurt them, thus associating the feelings to safety instead of danger and taking fear out of the equation.

An obvious effect of exercise is that it keeps you fit and healthy. It keeps your weight in check and lets you challenge yourself. These are fantastic ways to boost self-esteem. It helps you feel good about the fact that you are able to rise up and meet challenges you throw at yourself, thus increasing confidence. You are also happier with your appearance because you work so hard at the gym. So the next time you are feeling blue, get some exercise! For more information, contact the Wayne County YMCA at (570) 253-2083, or on the web at ymcawayne.com.