We all know that engaging in sports is beneficial for physical health. However, this is not the only benefit. There is evidence to suggest that physical activity enhances mental health and wellbeing. Sometimes, exercise is prescribed by medical professions as treatment for different mental health conditions (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018).

Sports improves your mood, concentration and reduces stress. Doing exercise stimulates the brain to release endorphins, chemicals in the brain which make you feel good. If you tend to overthink and have negative thoughts, distracting yourself by doing physical activity is very likely to help you feel better. When you are feeling stressed you probably notice that your body is stiff because you keep your muscles tense. Other symptoms related to stress may include trouble sleeping, heartburn and tightness in the chest. Due to these physical symptoms, you end up worrying more and therefore become even more stressed. This creates a negative cycle between the mind and body. However, by doing exercise, this cycle can be broken. The muscles in the body can relax and relieve the tension in the body which in turn makes the mind more at peace.

Just a few minutes of exercising are better than none at all. Start with short sessions e.g. going for a 20-minute walk and increase the time spent exercising as you feel more confident. The more you exercise the more energy you will have, so eventually you will feel ready for a little more. Once you start exercising on a frequent basis it becomes a habit and therefore it will feel like less of a chore. Taking the first step to start exercising is usually the most difficult. Although you might be feeling tired, working out actually makes you feel more energised.

Finding time always seems to be one of the biggest hurdles to exercising. However, if you really want to do it you will manage, you just need to find a slot which works for you. Remember, a few minutes a day will be sufficient. Thus, you might want to wake up a bit earlier before heading to work, during your lunch break or whilst waiting for the kids when they are at an extra-curricular activity.

When engaging in physical exercise, creativity is also stimulated. This is because you are feeling stress-free, happy, energised and concentrated. Whilst training, the brain is active and agile and this can help you to feel good about yourself. In turn, this tends to build self-confidence and self-esteem.

In conclusion, physical activity makes you feel happier and also improves your mental health. Along with the physical benefits of exercise, these reasons should be sufficient to encourage you to start exercising. If you do not engage in sports already go ahead and choose an activity which you find exciting. It will definitely be worth it.



Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx



Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.