How Exercise Boosts Mental Health and Productivity

22 Mar, 2023 | Read in 5 minutes

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Learn how a consistent exercise routine can improve your mental health and productivity.


Many studies show the importance of exercise for mental health and productivity. The Journal of Psychiatric research confirms that physical activity can alleviate symptoms of various mental illnesses. According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, specific exercises may help reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Exercise not only helps with mental health but also enhances productivity. The International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that incorporating exercise during work hours can improve employee time management by 72%. Moreover, a National Library of Medicine study shows that the "sit less, move more" program increases employee productivity.

Do you want to know more about how exercise impacts mental health and productivity? Read on to learn about its importance and how to begin!

Why does exercise make us feel better mentally?

Many individuals exercise regularly to maintain physical health. However, exercise also positively impacts mood, concentration, and productivity. It can heal feelings of loneliness and give positive emotions.

Mental health has become a hot topic for companies, especially remote workers. Buffer reports that 22% of remote employees struggle to disconnect from work after hours, 19% experience loneliness, and 8% lack motivation. At first glance, sports are not directly related to mental health. The relationship between the two is complicated.

Health Direct reports that exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. Both can boost mood and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Exercise also increases the growth of new neurons in the brain, including the hippocampus, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Here are some interesting facts about the relationship between exercise and mental health:

  • Exercise alters brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins.
  • The quality of sleep improves when you exercise regularly.
  • Exercise provides an opportunity to try new experiences and can distract from negative thoughts.
  • Physical activity can also serve as a healthy outlet for frustration.

9 benefits of exercise for mental health and productivity

WHO describes mental health as a state of well-being in which individuals are aware of their abilities, cope with everyday stresses, and can work productively. Below are nine benefits of exercise that can enhance mental health:

1. Better sleep

Lack of sleep and bad dreams can cause irritability, sensitivity, and depression. If you struggle to sleep and often have bad dreams, it is a sign that you are not exercising enough. However, regular exercise can enhance sleep quality and boost healthier brain function.

2. Increase energy

Starting the day with exercise can help you feel more energised and prepared to tackle your tasks. That happens because the brain releases endorphins, a pleasure-stimulating hormone to reduce pain perception. It can also boost positive feelings and energy levels. 

3. Reducing the risk of physical health issues

Exercise is beneficial not only for mental health but also for physical health. It helps regulate body weight and strengthen muscles and bones. Dementia Australia revealed that regular exercise reduces the likelihood of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. 

4. Boosting your mood

Have you ever heard the term runner's high? It's a happy feeling that comes during and after exercise. It occurs due to endorphins, endocannabinoids, and dopamine released during exercise, which elevates mood. These hormones can reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm.

5. Relieving stress

We all experience stress in life, and it can cause changes in character and mentality. Physical activity is the best recommendation for reducing stress. You can go for a morning walk on the beach, run in the afternoon or swim with friends.

6. Improve memory

One of the ways to keep our brains sharp is to keep our heart pumping. That means we have to keep moving or exercising. The part of the brain called the hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning. It can grow well if the body moves and has regular physical activity.

7. Reduce anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health issue, and exercise can be an effective way to manage it. Light walking, swimming or running in the morning can be a choice of exercise to relieve stress. To get maximum results, you can try mindfulness training. For example, you can focus on breathing exercises.

8. Combating loneliness

Another benefit of exercise is reducing feelings of social isolation. Activities like going to the gym or cycling can be social, which can help you make new friends and reduce feelings of isolation.

9. Increase self-confidence

Confidence makes feelings and thoughts positive. A study revealed that self-confidence increased after exercise. The after-effect of exercising is that people often feel their quality of life has improved. This effect makes self-confidence rise significantly.

How to start a physical exercise plan?

When starting to make an exercise plan, some people feel very motivated. But after two weeks, the motivation may disappear. To help you start and maintain your physical exercise plan, here are some valuable tips:

1. Don't overdo it

It's common to feel energised and excited when creating an exercise plan. Some people end up over-planning and pushing themselves. But remember that over-exercising can cause physical injury. Do it slowly at first and gradually increase over time.

2. Recognise that your motivation can change

Initial enthusiasm can fade over time. Try changing your routine or finding new exercise options when motivation starts to ease. For example, if you are bored with a gym workout, try walking in the morning or evening. Trying different exercises can help you stay motivated and stick to your plan.

3. Commit to an exercise plan

We're all busy, whether working in the office or remotely. Setting aside time to exercise means making your health a priority. Consistency is key in sticking to the exercise plan, so it's essential to be patient and persistent. Don't let laziness get in the way of your fitness goals.

4. Keep experimenting

Discovering the best exercise routine for you can be like finding happiness. Try different approaches to find the rhythm that works best for you. If exercising in the morning feels heavy, you can try exercising in the afternoon. You can also do yoga or pilates as a variation. Keep experimenting until you find your best rhythm.


Exercising can nourish the body and maintain mental health. It can promote better emotional stability and increase self-confidence. In addition, exercise can also increase productivity and memory. It can also reduce stress at work.

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