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Working out has great physical benefits. It helps with weight loss, burning calories, and getting fit. But working out also has some amazing mental health benefits. This article will help you discover 4 reasons to workout with your mental health in mind.

Weight loss, burning calories and getting fit. These are all great reasons to work out. And it’s mostly like what we think of whenever the word exercise is mentioned.

These are some great reasons to work out, but while they’re important, they’re not the only reasons you should be exercising. That’s because there are some amazing mental health benefits to working out that may even outweigh the physical benefits.

In a previous article, I discussed the four super important benefits of exercising. The focus of that article was on morning workouts.  Instead of the timing of your workouts, this article is going to specifically focus on the mental health benefits of exercising.

#1. Exercise reduces depression and anxiety disorders

For a very long, I was under the impression that Muslims are less prone to depression and anxiety related issues. I couldn’t understand how someone who had a strong connection to Allah subuhanawuta’ala could experience anxiety and depression.

As soon as I got out of my bubble, I realised that Muslims can also suffer from these issues.  Don’t get me wrong—whenever we feel depression and anxiety, we should reflect on our relationship with Allah. And there’s no better way to strengthening this connection than by practising our religion.

But at the same time, we also need to accept that this isn’t the sole cause of these issues. Muslims, like everyone else, have personal, family, and psychological issues that may lead to mental health diseases.

So, although it’s essential that we first and foremost turn to our Creator for all our difficulties, we do, however, need to take action to eliminate these mental health disorders. Trust in Allah, but tie your camel first.

One of the best ways to alleviate these disorders is by working out. Countless of studies1 2 have found that working out helps with

  • Mood
  • Stress levels, and
  • Concentration

Think of working out as a free therapy that all of us can take immediate advantage of.

#2. Exercise boosts brain power

Along with these psychological effects, Dr John Medina, in his outstanding book Brain Rules, lists 12 simple, but powerful rules to get the best out of your brain. Implementing these rules in your life will, inshaAllah, improve your brain power so that you learn, think and act better!

The very first rule he starts with is exercise. Using scientific evidence, he demonstrates how exercise can boost brain power and improve cognitive functions.

He says, “Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid intelligence tasks.”

In an interesting study in the University of Dublin, Ireland, scientists found that students who work out regularly had a better memory than students who didn’t work out. So, if you are a student or if you just want a great memory (like most of us), I don’t know of a better way to boost your brain than by working out.

Still need another reason to work out? The number 1 factor that predicts how well you will age (mentally and physically) depends pretty much on if you workout on a regular basis.3

#3. Exercise improves your energy levels and productivity

If you are a runner or if you’re a regular at the gym, then you know what I’m talking about. After your workout, you feel like you can move a mountain and like you’re at the top of the world. That’s because not only is your energy level increased, but your mental clarity and alertness are substantially increased too.

Improving both your mental and physical energy levels means that you’re able to be more productive and focused throughout your day. For example, researchers found that participants of a study they conducted who worked out reported fewer feelings of fatigue when they engaged in physical activities.

#4. Exercise helps control your cravings

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard it is to fight food cravings. Though there isn’t a shortcut for this problem, exercise can help you reduce those cravings.

In another case study, researchers found that high-intensity exercises may curb hunger pangs and decrease food cravings. This study also suggested that exercise decreases calorie intake compared to “mental-work.” That’s because exercise decreases our calorie intake, whereas “mental-work,” work that requires a lot of brainpower, increases our desire for food.

So, if you are really craving some food while doing mental-work, do this:

  1. Do 20 pushups
  2. Rest for 10 seconds
  3. Do 20 squats,
  4. Rest for 10 seconds
  5. Repeat this 3 times!

Trust me; you’ll notice a difference, insha Allah!

3 Churchill, J.D., et al. “Exercise, Experience and the Aging Brain.” Neurobiol Aging 23 (2002): 941-55.

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