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The Effect of Exercise on Mental Health

By Adam Park, Ocotillo Village Personal Trainer

Many people know exercise offers great physical benefits including weight control, cardiac health, blood pressure management, and minimizes the risk of other health conditions. Exercise also has a significant effect on our mental health. Regular exercise helps improve mental health by reducing stress levels, sharpening memory, regulating sleep cycles, and providing opportunities for socialization.

How does exercise effect stress and anxiety?

For many, exercise is used as a stress reliever. When we workout, our bodies go through a positive stress response known as eustress. Eustress allows us to deal with other stressors in a healthy way by triggering the release of endorphins and serotonin. Serotonin is important because it balances mood and promotes a healthy sleep cycle. Endorphins act as natural pain relievers and trigger positive feelings in the body which can help increase one’s self-esteem. Endorphins and serotonin work together to produce a positive mood and clear “brain fog.”  The release of these hormones also causes the stress hormone cortisol to decrease. High levels of cortisol can lead to health issues relating to heart health, blood pressure and even weight gain or loss. Being physically active helps to regulate our hormones, which will improve our overall quality of life.

How much exercise is enough?

Research studies suggest that getting regular amounts of exercise can effect mental health. Exercise decreases tension in our bodies, so we can consistently be in a more relaxed state. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week for every adult, or at least 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have enough time to get in at least 30 minutes a day, you can break it up into 10 minute sessions. The key is to commit to some amount of moderate activity — such as walking, yoga classes, weight training, and tennis — most days of the week. Find out what you enjoy doing and get to it!

Why is sleep important for mental health?

The better sleep we get, the better mood we are in and the more alert we feel. Getting regular exercise helps to promote great sleep patterns.  When energy is expended through physical activity, our bodies will fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer to re-energize again. This cycle optimizes our circadian rhythm. If you find yourself exercising later in the evening and feel too energized to go to sleep, try doing lighter intensity workouts such as yoga, Pilates, or walking.

How to start exercising to increase wellbeing

The Village offers countless opportunities to increase your mental health and wellbeing through exercise and social interactions. From golf outings to hiking, happy hours and even trips overseas, we offer a mix of social activities for every interest.

If you find it hard to get the motivation to exercise every day, we have a team of excellent personal trainers, group exercise instructors and sport coaches that can assist you in boosting motivation. Our personal trainers are certified, hold four-year college degrees in exercise and wellness and help individuals stay motivated through positive interactions and accountability. Personalized workout plans are designed for you to maximize success.

Our group exercise instructors focus on class-style exercise routines that offer great direction and feedback. Also, group classes are a perfect opportunity to meet other members. Want to learn a new sport? Take it to the courts and get in touch with our excellent tennis, squash, racquetball and basketball coaches. They not only help with improving your game, but also help create a fun environment with opportunities of social interaction. Life truly is better at the Village!

Trainer on a foam roller

Adam Park

Adam is a Midwest transplant hailing from Michigan. He attended Oakland University and received a degree in Wellness Health Promotions and Injury Prevention.  Before becoming a trainer at Ocotillo Adam helped individuals reach their goals in Medical Fitness facilities.  He has worked with a range of individuals including special risk populations (diabetes, cancer, cardiac, pulmonary, orthopedic injury, weight loss), sport specific, injury prevention and general fitness. He loves helping people achieve a healthier lifestyle one day at a time.


When Adam is not training, he is enjoying the outdoors playing Rugby, Fly Fishing, hiking, and laying by the pool.

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