Decreases depression and anxiety by producing endocannabinoids: The buzzword would be endorphins, but that’s not strictly what’s causing those feel-good post workout highs. Endocannabinoids, biochemical substances similar to cannabis that your body produces, are pumped through your bloodstream at an elevated level when you exercise. They reach our brain and give us those feelings you might associate with cannabis, that sense of calm and well-being, post workout.
Facilitates human connection through community: A study on more than 1.2 million adults found that while there was a 43.2% decrease in mental health issues in people who exercised, TEAM sports showed the greatest reduction in mental health issues. Exercise is a great medicine, but human connection is POWERFUL. And there is nothing quite like the community of CrossFit. In a world where it’s largely every man for himself, the environment of a CrossFit box is uniquely supportive. No matter who you are, where you’re coming from, or why you’re there, you can bet that you’ll find a team of people who will hold you up, celebrate your wins and support you through lows.
Creates long-term stress relief: Yes, CrossFit relieves stress. This is not news to anyone. Of course it relieves stress in the moment while you’re working your butt off and literally can’t think about anything else, but what you may not know is that consistent exercise actually facilitates the growth of NEW BLOOD VESSELS in your brain and may even produce new brain cells. This makes you less reactive to stress, both physical and emotional. Yes, please.
Improves grit: There is no other sport like CrossFit. Unlike other sports, it tests every facet of your athletic ability. Speed, strength, agility, endurance… but the overarching theme of every WOD is persistence. Pushing through the suck. You’re practicing your physical fitness, but you’re simultaneously exercising your mental strength. Your grit. Whether or not you realize it, you’re improving your ability to work through the struggle. This translates to all the other areas of your life as well. While it may not be a conscious effort, by osmosis your ability to persist will permeate those other life spheres. CrossFit makes your body, AND mind, stronger.
Increases confidence: Nothing boosts confidence like working hard to achieve something, and then achieving the thing. That’s the parsed down definition of CrossFit. You work hard, and no matter how “well” you perform, you finish the WOD. Over time you get stronger, and faster. These wins add up! They instill a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And with them, your confidence goes up too. It feels good to feel your efforts paying off.
Overall, any kind of exercise will help improve your mental health. But nothing helps quite like CrossFit. Embrace the suck, Team CK. We’re right there with you.