Exercise, as we all know, is good for your body and brain. What benefits does exercise provide for our mental health, alongside our physical well-being?

Studies have shown the countless ways in which exercise can improve your mental health. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and help decrease addiction, to list a few. When you exercise and get your body moving, you increase the blood flow to your brain, which enhances your body’s production of more norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate stress. Exercise also helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Anything that gets your blood flowing, like something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can help reduce stress.[1]

Similarly, exercise may decrease anxiety or depression. Science has shown that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones that make you feel good and help you feel less pain. When you exercise, you also increase your release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that can help you feel happier. One particular study showed that when people either ran for 15 minutes or walked for one hour, they had increased self-reported happiness, which was correlated with less depression.[2]

Exercise can also decrease addictions and temptations to various stimuli. You could be addicted to anything—drugs, alcohol, maybe even chocolate! When your body wants that substance, it is looking for dopamine, which helps you feel relaxed or at ease. When you exercise, and your body is producing endorphins, that can give you the feeling you want.[3]

In fact, one Hadith supports this claim. In this Hadith, Abu Hurairah mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good.”[4] This particular Hadith outlines the importance of being physically healthy and strong. In order to exercise, you do not need to put on expensive gym clothes or do a strenuous workout. You can do something as easy as going for a quick run or walking to meetings to strengthen both your body and Imaan.

Many people around the world struggle with their mental health, but educating people about the positive aspects of exercising could make a huge difference!

If we start by motivating our family, friends, and neighbours to get up and do a simple physical activity, then, in the long run, we can get the whole city to be physically active! If we want to make change globally, we can start by acting locally.


[1] YouTube. (2021). 7 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise: How Exercise Improves Physical and Mental Health! YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4B7FwebK08&t=71s.

[2] YouTube. (2021). 7 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise: How Exercise Improves Physical and Mental Health! YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4B7FwebK08&t=71s.

[3] YouTube. (2021). 7 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise: How Exercise Improves Physical and Mental Health! YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4B7FwebK08&t=71s.

[4] HalalTrip, A. F. (2018, August 3). Keeping Your Body Fit: What Does Islam Say About Keeping Fit? https://www.halaltrip.com/other/blog/keeping-your-body-fit-what-does