Improving Mental Health With Exercise

Mental health is equally as important as physical health. It involves our psychological, emotional, and social state. The status of our mental health affects the way we perceive things and the way we react to different life events. This is why we must nurture not only our body but our mind as well with regular physical activity.

When we think of the benefits of physical exercise, our first thoughts may be of well-defined biceps, six-pack abs, and firm glutes. But the not-so-obvious truth is that our mental health also improves with regular physical activity. Active people tend to be more upbeat and energetic, with sharper memories, normal sleeping patterns, and an overall feeling of calm and self-content. In fact, studies show that even people who suffer from depression, ADHD, and anxiety showed marked improvement after they exercise. As such, they can defer contacting their insurance companies for health services.

What mental health benefits can we gain from exercise?

  • Research shows that exercise is as effective as antidepressant medications in combating mild to moderate symptoms of depression, sans its harmful side-effects. It further recommends keeping regular exercise sessions to sustain the effect and prevent depression relapse.
  • Exercise is a natural mood booster. It prevents anxiety attacks by releasing endorphins that promote positivity and relieve tension and stress. It’s like keeping happy thoughts to ward off negativity.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients showed marked improvement in concentration and ability to focus as regular exercise boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin hormone levels.
  • Outdoor activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, whitewater rafting, sailing, and skiing downhill or cross-country have also been proven to reduce the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by diverting the subject’s attention from his past traumatic experience.
  • Exercise is also known to foster improved memory, higher self-esteem, longer and more restful sleep, and increased energy as if you had a boost of electricity.

How much exercise do we need?

Luckily, we don’t need to be fitness die-hards to reap the physical as well as mental benefits of exercise. Research proves that even modest amounts of exercise can yield substantial results.

If you are a beginner, you can start with 5-minute or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time as your body adjusts and gets used to physical activity. If you have hectic weekdays, you may opt for weekend workouts and reap almost as many benefits.

Additionally, unless you’re planning to compete in bodybuilding contests, you don’t really have to perform extreme workout routines aimed at pumping and toning the muscles. Moderate levels of exercise should be enough to gain the important health benefits of physical activity. Online classes can show you more tips on getting maximum benefits from moderate activities.

When is the best time to exercise?

There are no hard and fast rules because every person is different. You may choose to begin your day by exercising to set the day’s mood. You may also opt to squeeze in a few minutes of activity in the middle of the day or wait until later if you are a night person. Whatever works for you but the key is to choose a time when your energy is at its peak, so it won’t feel like a sacrifice but an investment.

Make fitness your lifestyle

Getting fit and healthy should not be confined to the gym or jogging path. The goal is to integrate exercise into your lifestyle, you may convert otherwise mundane errands into fitness activities. Clean the house, wash the car, mow the lawn, climb the stairs, play with your kids, walk on your way to pay the mortgage – the possibilities are endless!

Based on Materials from Help Guide

Photo Sources: Global Thrive, Iphoto, Unsplash