Importance Of Exercise And Mental Health

Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

Today, there is much more awareness about the topic of mental health. No longer a taboo subject, we can now discuss the way we are feeling without being judged.

Quality Of Health And Life Has An Impact On The Way We Feel

Though there is much more mental health awareness, there is still an abundance of questions surrounding the cause. There is no secret that our quality of health and life has an impact on the way we feel. So, if we modify our lifestyles and improve our health and fitness, one can assume we would improve our overall quality of life, our mood, and our mental health.

Lifestyle Changes Have Improved The Lives Of Many

It is easy to not socialise with others when you are not feeling your best. And this often leads to an unfortunate cycle where you lose confidence in yourself and also lose the will to go out and engage in social activities. Lifestyle changes have improved the lives of many with serious mental illness. And lots of those are at a high risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hyperlipidemia because of the sedentary behavior associated with mental illness.

The Importance Of Exercise And Ways To Improve Mental Well-Being

Experts are beginning to understand the importance of exercise in the search for ways to improve the mental well-being of patients with mental illness. For years, the importance of exercising has not been appreciated by some in the field and misunderstood. Now the evidence suggests it is an often neglected intervention in mental health care.

Aerobic activities such as swimming, jogging, cycling, walking, and dancing, help to reduce anxiety and depression. An increase in blood circulation to the brain and an influence on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis is the reason.

Areas Of The Brain Thought To Be Affected By Exercise

Communication between the HPA and the brain, including the limbic system, is just one of the reasons for the reduction of anxiety and levels of depression. The limbic system is the part of the brain that controls our motivation and mood. Other areas of the brain thought to be affected by exercise is the amygdala, which generates fear in response to stress, the hippocampus, which plays a part in the formation of memories, as well as motivation and mood.

Other reasons that explain the beneficial effects of exercise on our mental health, which include self-efficacy, self-discipline, and social interaction.

Simple Lifestyle Changes Considered The Most Appropriate

While structured group programmes are an effective method for people unfortunate enough to experience serious mental illness, simple lifestyle changes that focus on and increase moderate-intensity training during the day is considered to be the most appropriate for the majority of patients.

Interesting to note, psychiatric patients, tend to adhere and participate in the physical activity interventions at a comparable rate to the general population.

Exercise improves our mental health:

  • Reducing the level of anxiety
  • Reducing Depression Levels
  • Reducing Negative Mood
  • improves our self-esteem and cognitive function.

Reduce Other Symptoms Of Mental Health

Frequent exercise helps to reduce other symptoms of mental health also, such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

A study showed that patients who are suffering from schizophrenia, that participated in a three-month physical conditioning program showed improvements in many areas, including weight control, fitness levels, blood pressure, exercise tolerance, and increased energy levels.

Achieve These Health Benefits

The good news is that these health benefits are not difficult to obtain. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercises, such as a brisk walk, three days a week, is enough to achieve these health benefits.

Even better news, the thirty minutes of exercise does not need to be done continuously. You can break it down into three, ten-minute walks, which is equally as beneficial as one thirty-minute walk.

Health Benefits You Can Get From Regular Exercise

The health benefits you can get from regular exercise are seen in studies and should be reinforced by everyone that knows someone suffering from mental health issues.

The Benefits From Regular Exercise Include:

  1. Improved sleep
  2. Increased interest in sex
  3. Better endurance
  4. Stress relief
  5. Improvement in mood
  6. Increased energy and stamina
  7. Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness
  8. Weight reduction
  9. Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness

Exercise and depression (Moderate Depression)

Exercise has shown in studies that it can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. The Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health done a study that found running for 15 minutes per day or walking for an hour can reduce the risk of major depression by 26 percent. In addition to this, the study found that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Promote Changes In The Brain

Exercise is a depression fighter because it promotes changes in the brain, including reduced inflammation, neural growth, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and a sense of well-being. Endorphines are also released, which are the powerful chemicals that make us feel good. 

Exercise and anxiety

Exercise is a natural anti-anxiety treatment that helps to relieve us from the tension and stress we feel. It also boosts our mental and physical energy while releasing endorphins to promote a feeling of well-being.

Exercise and stress

Have you ever stopped to notice how your body feels when under stress? Focus on it next time, and you’ll feel the muscles in your body are tense, especially your face, neck, and shoulders, which will often leave you with back or neck pain and headaches. You may also feel a tightening of your chest, a racing pulse, muscle cramps, heartburn, and insomnia in some cases. All this worry and discomfort can lead to more stress, creating a battle between your body and mind. 

Regular exercise is an effective way to break this cycle while relieving tension in the body. The release of endorphins and the tension relief is what helps to relax the muscles, and because the body and mind are so closely linked, your overall mental and physical well-being is improved.

Exercise and ADHD

Exercise is one of the easiest ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. It can improve concentration, memory, and mood as the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain are all boosted by physical activity. All of which affect focus and attention.

Other Mental And Emotional Benefits Of Exercise

Memory And Thinking: As well as making you feel better, these endorphins make you feel more mentally sharp and ready for the tasks ahead. Exercise also helps to stimulate growth in brain cells, which can help prevent age-related decline.

Higher Self-Esteem: By participating in regular activities such as exercising, you are investing in your mind, body, and soul. After a time, you will begin to get stronger, more powerful, and more confident about your appearance.

Better Sleep At Night: Short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help you get a night of better sleep and help to regulate your sleep patterns. If you are a night owl who prefers exercising at night, gentle exercising and yoga are perfect for promoting good sleep.

Increase Energy Levels. The increase in your heart rate will give you more get up and go. The hardest part of anything is getting started. So start slow with a few minutes of exercise a day and increase the duration over time. The harder and longer you get your heart rate up, the better and more energetic you will feel.

More Resilience. Exercise can help us cope with the emotional challenges in our lives in a healthy way. Instead of resorting to the nasty coping mechanisms,s such as alcohol and drugs, go out for a run or spend an hour doing yoga. 

Do Not Feel Intimidated Or Discouraged

If all this talk of exercise is giving you visions of falling over the line at the London Marathon, do not feel discouraged. Even a few minutes of physical activity is better than nothing. If 30 minutes is too much for you, start off doing 15 minutes a day or even five minutes is okay. Like I said earlier in the post, getting started is often the hardest. Start slowly and increase your time as you go. The more exercise you do, the more energetic you will be, the more you will be able to accomplish. The key is to commit to some form of physical activity on most days. It does not matter how little you do because forming the habit is more important at the beginning. You can add extra minutes as you go, and the benefits of exercise will soon pay off.

Overcoming Our Obstacle To Get Started: Mental health may be holding you back from getting started, as we talked about earlier in the post. Exercise obstacles are real things that we often struggle with when starting. Here are some of the barriers you may face and what you can do to get past them.

Always exhausted: When you are feeling stress and tired, it feels like working out will only make you feel worse. But the truth is that physical activity is a powerful energiser that helps to reduce fatigue and increase energy levels. Next time you are feeling tired, go for a five-minute walk, and I guarantee you can do five minutes more. Taking things one step at a time is often the easiest way.

Slightly Overwhelmed: When feeling down and stressed, the thought of adding another obligation can seem daunting. And if you have children to look after, you are probably already too busy to do anything else. But remember, exercise helps us do things better, so fitting in those small bits of physical may help you juggle life a bit easier and make you happier overall.

Unhappy In Your Own Body: If you are unhappy with your body, now is the time to change the way you think about things. No matter your body shape, weight, or fitness level, there are others like you, and many will have the same goals. Go out and find people that make you feel more confident. Try taking a class with people that are in your shoes, such as age group, fitness level, etc. You will soon have some new friends that will push you on and achieve better things.

Exercise Will Help You Break The Cycle: It can be hard enough to motivate ourselves at the best of times, never mind when feeling anxious and depressed. Feeling down and unmotivated is the catch 22 situation that many find themselves trapped in, and it is hard to break out. If this is where you find yourself at the moment, remember that exercise will help you feel better and make it easier to break away from the cycle. Start slowly by setting little goals. The more of these small goals you achieve, the better you will feel.

Tips For Staying Motivated

Do What you enjoy: Finding it hard to get motivated? Focus on the activities you like, which can be anything from taking the dog for a walk and throwing a frisbee to doing a little gardening. The only thing that matters at the beginning is that your active. Preferably outside in the fresh air. Gaining a sense of purpose and accomplishment can do the world of good!

Comfortable: Choose your settings wisely. If you suffer from anxiety, choose a peaceful area that omits a sense of calm and always wear clothes that make you feel comfortable.

Reward yourself: Every time you achieve one of your goals, reward yourself, but remember, this does not mean you buy yourself a new car every time you walk a mile! Give yourself a nice bubble bath instead!

I fully expect to see some large scale studies linking mental health to exercise soon and look forward to seeing the results. In the meantime, if you know anyone suffering from mental health issues, and would like to improve their life, ask them to go out for a walk.

Treadmills are an easy and convenient way to exercise. If you live a hectic life and believe a home running machine will allow you to squeeze in a little exercise –