Can fitness help mental health? Experts are continually finding that it can, indeed. While exercise and an activity regimen are not a universal cure-all to fix your mental ills, getting actively fit is linked to the alleviation of symptoms. These symptoms may be linked to stress, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Exercise and activity help aid mental well-being in several ways.
The Joy of Regular Exercise
Those people who engage in regular exercise tend to enjoy it because of the feeling of well-being the practice provides. They gain more benefit from their sleeping hours and have more energy in their waking hours. Their memories tend to be sharper, their thought processes clearer, and they feel greater positivity about themselves, being more comfortable in their own bodies.
Brain Chemicals and Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good. They are natural brain chemicals similar to cannabis, known as endogenous cannabinoids. Other brain chemicals also enhance your feelings of well-being when you get active. These include norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These all play important roles in regulating your mood.
Exercise and Depression
A Harvard study found that a quarter of an hour’s walking or running daily reduces your risk of major depression by over 25%. This is because exercise promotes powerful changes in your brain. Reduced inflammation, new activity patterns, and neural growth encourage feelings of well-being. Exercise also can act as a disruption in the progression of negative thoughts that cycle and strengthen depressive symptoms.
Exercise and Stress
Stress does not target the mind alone; it strikes many areas of the body. You may feel tense muscles in your shoulders, neck, and face, possibly leading to headaches, neck aches, or pain in the back. Chest tightness, a pulse that pounds, and other muscles cramping are also possible, as are heartburn, pains in the stomach, diarrhea, insomnia, and frequent urination.
These physical aspects can cause more worry, turning stress into a vicious cycle. Exercise breaks this cycle and releases endorphins. Physical activity also helps the muscles to relax, relieving your physical tension. Mind and body both benefit from activity when you suffer from stress.
Sharpen Your Memory and Thinking
Those endorphins that aid you in feeling alleviating the symptoms of depression and stress also help you focus. With the release of endorphins, you grow more mentally sharp for whatever tasks lie before you. Exercise is also known to stimulate new brain cell growth and fight age-related decline.
Get Improved Sleep
Exercise can help you to regulate your patterns of sleep. Just be sure not to perform strenuous activity too close to bedtime. If night holds the best opportunity for you to exercise, consider the gentle motions of stretching or yoga. Short bursts of activity in the morning and early afternoon can have marked differences in your quality of sleep.
Feel More Energy
When you increase your heart rate in several days of a week, you will find greater energy to perform other tasks. You can start quite slow. Give it several minutes a day, steadily increasing the duration as energy begins to snowball.
Know a Higher Self-Esteem
Because regular fitness goals are an investment in your body, mind, and spirit, devoting time to them bolsters your self-worth. As you grow physically stronger, you will feel stronger in mind as well. The activity also tends to make people feel better about personal appearances. Meeting the goals of fitness is a great way to feel better about yourself.
How to Attain the Benefits?
The word fitness can be daunting, especially if you suffer from mental health problems such as depression. These can sap your energy and strength, leaving you feeling helpless to face exercise. Fortunately, you need not devote daily hours to sweating buckets or running until you cannot breathe. Even small degrees of activity add up. Listen to your body. Try sessions that last from five to ten minutes. Increase gradually, committing to some amount of moderate activity on most days.
Defining Moderate Activity
When you perform moderate exercise, you breathe a bit heavier than you would normally without getting out of breath. If you are unsure of whether or not you are reaching the proper degree of difficulty, consider this: in moderate activity, you can carry on a conversation. You cannot, however, easily sing. Your body should also feel warmer with the motion of your activity, but you should not grow extremely sweaty or overheated.
When Obstacles Arise
Some common barriers to exercising when dealing with various mental well-being issues are exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and enduring pain. For the first, remember that exercise has been shown to be an energizer of great power. When performed regularly, activity can reduce fatigue to a dramatic extent. Try a 5-minute walk to start.
That little piece of activity will help you take the next step. For being overwhelmed with other tasks, again, just squeeze in that five-minute walk. Here and there, those bursts of activity add up. If you have physical difficulties, consult your doctor and concoct a plan that will not injure you. Dividing exercise into small chunks of time may help.
Experts on the Question: Can Fitness Help Mental Health?
According to an article titled Exercise for Mental Health, the importance of exercise is not properly appreciated or understood by either mental health professionals or their patients. This is unfortunate, as aerobic exercises have been proven to reduce depression and anxiety. What professionals fail to promote when they underestimate exercise is the benefit of increased blood circulation for the brain.
With all of the benefits to the body and mind that exercise provides, you may want to contact me about the best regimen that works for you. Some people with painful joints may do best when they exercise in water. Others can handle walking better than they can manage jogging. Whichever way works best for you, to help maintain your mood and relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and other disorders, take up a little bit of moderate exercise each day.