How Exercise Improves Our Sleep, Mental Health and Productivity

Young African-American businesswoman, smiling in a boardroom.

We all instinctively know that exercise is good for us — we all know that it helps us manage our weight, lifts energy levels, boosts our immune systems, and generally puts us in a better mood. But recent research has come out on just how impactful and important exercise is to some of the most fundamental pillars to overall happiness: specifically our sleep, mental health, and productivity at school, work, and life. 

This new research demonstrates what many of us have been saying all along – that fitness is not one singular aspect of life, that it is a part of all aspects of our lives. Our minds and bodies, mental health and physical health, inside and outside, are all connected and interwoven. This also means that when we fall out of balance, and one aspect of our lives falters, it will inevitably affect other aspects of our lives. 

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the remarkable effect that exercise has on our sleep, mental health, and productivity. 

Sweating to Sleep

When we work out, our bodies release healthy and helpful endorphins, which decrease daily stressors that can contribute to insomnia at night. Studies have shown that those suffering with insomnia actually fall asleep 13 minutes faster, and for 18 minutes longer, on average. Another way physical activity encourages more sleep is through our body’s core temperature — when we exercise, our bodies heat up and then proceed to cool down afterwards. This change sends signals to our brains that it’s time for sleep. Finally, exercise has also been linked to a realignment of our circadian rhythms (also known as our body clock). When we take part in cardiovascular exercise, our bodies release the hormone serotonin, which our brains use to regulate our sleep patterns, thus resetting a disrupted sleep-wake cycle.

Health is Wealth

Professional young woman practicing yoga on a mat in her office.

Sure, exercise can help us reap rewards physically, but those effects almost pale in comparison to the mental health benefits we receive. In June of 2021, the John W. Brick Foundation released a widespread review of over a thousand studies from the past thirty years, searching for positive links between physical activity and mental health. The foundation found an impressive 89% of the studies showed a statistically significant link. Another study found that exercising 45 minutes, 3-5 times per week was associated with the biggest reductions in anxiety, depression, and other mental health illnesses. Moreover, mindful forms of exercise like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong lowered the incidence of post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Productivity, Passion, Performance

When we undertake a heart-pounding, physically challenging activity, the effect on our brains is shocking — cardiovascular exercise boosts our memory, cognitive performance, and even stimulates neurogenesis, which is the process of building new brain cells. This leads to better concentration and focus, and less fatigue, stress, and brain fog. As can be imagined, studies have shown that exercise leads to higher grades for students, and better output for working adults. This is also why several employers have taken to the ‘sit less, move more’ philosophy, offering their employees exercise breaks in the middle of the day, as well as standing desks.

For all these reasons (and so many more), exercise is perhaps the most important activity we can do for our health and well-being in the long run. And the best way to exercise is with unlimited virtual workouts with Studio SWEAT onDemand. The fitness platform offers the best in streaming fitness classes to people around the world, with a huge variety of workouts, non-stop new releases, and a passionate team of trainers. The platform offers a commercial program called Sweat Pro as well as a corporate program called the Sweat Force. To learn more about these programs or schedule a demo, visit this page today.

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