The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is good for your health. Did you know that exercise can improve your mood, your sleep quality and help with anxiety, depression, and stress?
What are the mental benefits of exercising?
It’s not about your aerobic capacity or muscle size. Exercise can help you improve your body and shape, your sexual life, and add years to your lifespan. However, that is not what motivates most people who exercise.
Regular exercise is a great way to feel good. They are more productive throughout the day, feel happier, have better memories, feel more positive and relaxed about their lives. It’s also an effective treatment for common mental health problems.
Regular exercise can have a tremendously positive effect on anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Exercise can also reduce stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and increase your mood. You don’t need to be a gym rat to reap the rewards. Studies show that even modest amounts of exercise can make all the difference. You can use exercise to manage your mental health, increase your energy, and live a more fulfilling life, regardless of your fitness level.
Exercise and depression
Exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating mild-moderate depression, according to studies. However, there are no side effects. Harvard T.H. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that walking for half an hour or running for 15 minutes per day reduces major depression risk by 26%. Research has shown that exercise can help you avoid relapse.
Exercise can be a powerful way to fight depression for many reasons. It promotes a variety of brain changes, including neural growth and reduced inflammation. New activity patterns promote calmness and well-being. Endorphins are powerful chemicals that your brain releases, which can energize you and make your feel good. Exercise can also be a distraction to help you break the cycle of negativity that feeds depression.
Exercise and anxiety
Exercise is an effective and natural anti-anxiety treatment. Exercise reduces stress and tension, increases physical and mental energy, and improves well-being by releasing endorphins. You can do anything to get you moving, but paying attention is more beneficial than zoning out.
Pay attention to the sensations of your feet touching the ground or your breathing rhythm, or the feel of the wind on the skin. This mindfulness element – focusing on your body as you exercise and how it feels – will help you improve your physical condition. It may also allow you to stop worrying about the future.
Exercise and stress
Have you ever noticed how your body reacts to stress? You may feel tightness in your muscles, especially around the neck and shoulders. This can cause pain in your back, neck, or head, as well as headaches. Tightness in the chest, pounding pulse or cramps may be symptoms. Other symptoms include frequent urination, insomnia, stomachache and heartburn. These symptoms can lead to anxiety and discomfort, which can then create a vicious circle between your body and mind.
This cycle can be broken by exercising. Physical activity not only releases endorphins in your brain but also relaxes the muscles and relieves tension. Because the mind and body are closely connected, your mind will feel better if it feels good.
Exercise and ADHD
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage ADHD symptoms and improve your mood, concentration, motivation, and memory. Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels are immediately boosted by regular exercise. All of these factors affect attention and focus. Exercise works much in the same way ADHD medication Ritalin or Adderall does.
Exercise and Trauma and PTSD
Research suggests that focusing on your body and how it feels while you exercise can help your nervous system get “unstuck”. This will allow you to break the immobilization stress response that is characteristic of PTSD and trauma. Instead of letting your mind wander, pay attention to your body’s movements and the sensations you feel in your joints, muscles, and even inside. Cross-movement exercises that use both your arms and legs, such as running (especially in sand), swimming, weight training or dancing, are some of the best options.
It has been proven that outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rock climbing and whitewater rafting can reduce symptoms of PTSD.
Exercise has other mental health benefits.
Regular exercise can provide a welcome boost in mood, outlook and mental well-being, even if you don’t have a mental illness.
Exercise can be a great way to help you:
Better memory and thinking. These endorphins make you feel happier and help you focus and be more productive in your daily tasks. Exercise stimulates brain growth and prevents age-related decline.
Increase self-esteem. Regular exercise is an investment in your body, mind, and soul. It can help you feel confident and strong if it becomes a habit. You will feel happier about your appearance and feel accomplished if you reach even the smallest exercise goals.
Get better sleep. Even a short exercise session in the morning or after work can help you regulate your sleep schedule. Yoga or gentle stretching is great for promoting sleep if you don’t want to exercise at night.
Increase your energy. Doing so several times per week will increase your get-up-and-go. You can start by doing a little exercise every day. As you feel more energetic, increase the amount of time you do it.
Increased resilience. Exercise can help you cope with emotional or mental challenges. Regular exercise can boost your immune system and help reduce stress.
It is easy to reap the mental health benefits from exercise.
To reap the benefits of exercise, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym, run miles after mile, or sweat buckets. It’s enough to do moderate exercise for 30-minutes five times per week. Even that amount can be broken down into 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions if it’s easier.
It’s better to have a little activity than none.
It’s fine to stop exercising for 15-30 minutes if you have a busy schedule. Begin with 5-10 minute sessions, and gradually increase the time. You’ll eventually feel more energetic if you do more exercise. It is important to do moderate exercise on most days, no matter how little. You can gradually add more time or try new types of exercise as you make exercising a daily habit. You will reap the rewards of exercising if you continue to do it.
To get results, you don’t need to suffer.
Research has shown that moderate exercise is best for most people. Moderate means:
- You may feel heavier than usual, but you are still able to breathe. You should, for example, be able to chat with your partner while walking but not sing a song.
- Your body will feel warmer when you move but not too hot or sweaty.
Are you unable to find the time to exercise during your week? Be a weekend warrior.
Recent research in the United Kingdom showed that those who fit their exercise into a few sessions per week experience nearly the same health benefits as those who do it more frequently. Don’t let your busy schedule at school, work, or home be an excuse not to exercise. Your body and mind will be grateful that you are getting up every day!
Surmounting obstacles to exercising
Even if you know exercise will improve your mood; it can be difficult to take that first step. Exercise can be difficult, especially if you have a mental illness.
These are common obstacles and ways to overcome them.
Feeling tired. It seems like working out will only make your situation worse. Physical activity can be a powerful stimulant. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue levels and boost energy levels dramatically. You can take a 5-minute walk if you feel tired. You’ll likely feel more energetic and be able to walk longer if you get moving.
Feeling overwhelmed. Adding another task to your already busy schedule can be overwhelming. It just isn’t practical to exercise. It can be not easy to find childcare for children if you are exercising. If you start to view physical activity as a priority, essential for your mental health, you will soon find ways to fit in small amounts of exercise into even the most hectic schedules.
Feeling helpless. You don’t have to be a pro at exercise. Begin slowly by doing low-impact, easy activities for a few minutes every day, such as walking or dancing.
Feeling negative about yourself. Do you feel like your worst critic? It would help if you changed the way you think about your body. There are many people in your boat, regardless of their weight or fitness level. Ask a friend to join you for exercise. Even the smallest goals can help you improve your self-esteem and body confidence.
Feeling pain. Talk to your doctor if you have any injuries or illnesses that may limit your ability to exercise safely. Do not ignore your pain. Instead, do the best you can to manage it. If you find it easier to exercise in shorter and more frequent intervals, you might also consider water exercise for muscle or joint discomfort.
If you have a mental illness, it isn’t easy to get started with exercise.
It can be difficult for many of us to find the motivation to exercise even when we are at our best. It can be even more difficult to exercise when depressed, anxious, stressed, or have another mental illness. Depression and anxiety can make it difficult to feel free. Exercise will improve your mood, but you may not feel the same way if you have depression. Or you might be afraid of being seen in a gym or running through the parks because of social anxiety.
Start small. If you feel depressed or anxious and haven’t exercised in a while, setting unrealistic goals such as running a marathon or exercising for an hour every day will only make you feel more discouraged. It’s better to set realistic goals and work your way up.
Workouts should be scheduled when you feel the most energetic. Maybe you prefer to exercise longer on weekends. You may feel tired or unmotivated because of depression or anxiety. A short walk of 15 minutes can improve your mood and energy, as well as your mental clarity. You’ll feel better as you move, and you will be able to exercise more vigorously by adding in a run or walking farther, or even adding in a bike ride.
Get moving. You could do this by playing Frisbee with your dog, going to the mall, cycling to the grocery shop, or even throwing a Frisbee together. Try various activities if you are new to exercise or don’t know what kind of activity you like. You can get more exercise by gardening or doing a home project.
Be comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing and find a place that is calming or energizing. It could be your own private space, a beautiful path or your favorite park in the city.
Recognize yourself. A reward for completing an activity is how you feel afterwards. However, it can help your motivation to give yourself an extra treat in return. You can reward yourself with a hot tub, a tasty smoothie, or an extra episode of your favorite TV series.
Make exercise a social activity. Exercise with friends, family members, or your children can make it more enjoyable and motivate you to keep up a routine. Exercise with a friend or loved one will make you feel more energetic than if done alone. You may find that companionship is just as important if you suffer from a mood disorder like depression.
Move more without going to the gym.
Are you short on time? Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Physical activity is a lifestyle, not a task on your to-do list. Take a look at your day and think about ways you can get in some exercise.
Get in and around your house.
Get active at work and on the move. Take a walk or bike to your appointment, then take the stairs to the bus stop. Then, get off at the back of the parking lot, walk to the office or store, or do a vigorous walk during your break.
Be active with your family. Play tag with your kids in the yard. Go canoeing at the lake. Take your dog to a new location.
Be creative with your exercise ideas. Take a class in dance, martial arts, or yoga.
Exercise should be fun!
To reap the many health benefits of exercise, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym or do monotonous workouts. These tips will help you find the right activities to make you feel good, look better and enjoy life more.