People always look for ways to be happy. Some go to far places to explore different cultures and meet various people. Others take their time finding and doing their passion, while fortunate few probably spend some bucks shopping for great finds.
Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
But if you are one of those who aim to save some time and money and feel happy at the same time, it is possible through exercise.
When you exercise, your body produces dopamine and endorphins in your brain, which make you feel happy. In the same way, doing some exercise also aids in the removal of substances in the brain that cause tension and anxiety.
In most observations and researches, those who frequently exercise tend to be happier and livelier; on the other hand, those people who keep a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to be grumpy or sluggish. Indeed, regular exercise can assist you in controlling your emotions when you are angry or unhappy.
To say that mental and emotional health can be improved through exercise is an understatement. Basically, exercise can improve how you handle your mood, fix your sleep patterns, relieve your anxiety, stress, and so much more.
Let’s discuss further how exercise can improve our mental health and aids in managing pressing mental health concerns.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
When we discuss exercise, we often associate it with bodybuilding, making our muscles toned and bigger (for some), and losing weight. The idea of exercise always goes back to improving one’s physique to be physically healthy, to spice sex life, or to look more attractive.
However, it’s time to understand that we need to exercise not just to improve our aerobic capacity or appearance. The benefits of exercise on mental health have to be stressed as well. With the surge of pandemics and demands of fast-paced life especially at work, mental health has to be equally prioritized.
Let’s learn it from those who exercise to improve their overall being. These are people who exercise on a daily basis do so because it offers them a tremendous sense of well-being.
Exercising gives them more mental benefits such as have more energy throughout the day, rest better at night, have sharper memories, and are much more relaxed and enthusiastic about themselves and their circumstances. Being relaxed and optimistic about life is one of the organic, powerful tools to prevent and manage mental health conditions.
We cannot stress enough why is working out good for you. Regular and proper exercise can positively impact mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD, to name a few. Aside from the physical and mental health aspects, there are emotional benefits of exercise such as mood stabilization that can be reaped from exercise.
Apprehensions such as lack of time, finances, or equipment are the least to worry to start exercising. You do not have to be a buff or health coach to ensure that you reap the benefits. Spending at least 15 to 30 minutes a day for exercise can make a great difference in your body unless you are aiming to be a bodybuilder or being required to spend more time due to your profession or medical condition.
You may start to use exercise to aid mental health issues, increase your energy and optimism, and get more out of life, regardless of your age or fitness level.
Benefits of Exercise in Managing Depression
According to a study published in the Prim Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise is a behavioral intervention that has shown significant potential in treating symptoms of depression.
Another remarkable study is the one recently conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers discovered that running or walking an hour decreases the risk of severe anxiety by 26%.
Structured exercise has shown promise in alleviating clinical depression symptoms. Many research has been conducted to investigate the effectiveness of exercise in reducing symptoms of depression. Furthermore, a significant majority of these studies have made a strong benefit related to exercise participation.
For numerous reasons, we must consider exercise as an effective tool against depression. Most significantly, it stimulates all types of brain changes, including neuronal development that enhances feelings of calmness and well-being.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, one of the benefits of exercise on mental health is that it releases endorphins which help us feel good.
Doing some exercise especially in the morning before you start your day can also give you quiet time and distraction from thoughts that aggravate depression.
Benefits of Exercise in Managing Anxiety
Personal issues, frustrations at work or in relationships, or perhaps concerns in finances are usually the reasons behind one’s anxiety. Treating it with medications and consultation may be effective, but can be costly as well.
Fortunately, one of the benefits offered by exercise on mental health is its ability to provide natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. Aside from it improves blood circulation which improves our mood, exercising also reduces tension and stress, increases physical and mental vitality, and improves overall well-being by releasing endorphins.
Exercising by moving definitely helps, but you can also consider doing exercises that give you space and stillness such as medication. Increase your sensitivity and feel the sensation as you hit your feet on the ground. Feel your breathing and the touch of wind on your skin.
Exercise improves mindfulness and also makes us appreciate nature’s gift. This does not only improve your physical being, but exercise also helps you clear the worries that keep on running in your head.
Benefits of Exercise in Managing Stress
Have you ever observed how your body reacts to stress? Your muscles may be stiff, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, triggering back or neck pain as well as terrible headaches.
Unless you have severe heart ailments or conditions, stress can also give you a feeling of tightness in your chest or muscle cramps. For older people, stress can cause insomnia and heartburn which causes a decrease in energy.
Other evidence of stress which takes a toll especially for people who work include stomachache, diarrhea, and unusual urination. Having these conditions due to stress can result in more stress, which leads to a vicious cycle affecting the mind and body.
To lessen and finally break the cycle, take some time within the day to exercise. Observe how exercising helps to relax the muscles and release tension in your mind and body. As your brain releases endorphins, you feel great, happier, and healthier as well.
Always remember that the mind and body are correlated. Thus, keeping your mental health at its optimum state through exercise can directly impact your body too.
Benefits of Exercise in Managing ADHD
Exercise isn’t a miracle treatment for ADHD, but it can help one to perform better and feel better. As most people remarked, it is definitely worth a shot.
Regular exercise is regarded in the medical community as one of the simplest and most effective strategies to minimize ADHD symptoms.
Physical activity quickly increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain, all of which affect focus and attention. Scientifically, exercise works in the same manner as ADHD drugs do.
Benefits of Exercise in Managing PTSD and Trauma
Evidence shows that by paying close attention to your body and how it feels when exercising, you can actually help your nervous system get “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobility stress reaction that marks PTSD or trauma.
There was a study on a 12-week fitness program that comprised three 30-minute resistance training sessions per week, as well as walking. The study shows how exercise significantly reduced PTSD symptoms, depression, and improved sleep quality after the program concluded.
Moreover, pay attention to the pains in your joints and muscles, but also how your body moves. Cross-movement exercises that involve both arms and legs, such as walking (particularly in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing, are among your best options.
Exercises can also come in the forms of adventure sports have all been demonstrated to alleviate PTSD symptoms.
More on the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Exercising does not only benefit those who have mental health concerns. Even if you don’t have a mental health problem, it helps improve your mood, attitude, and mental well-being.
Here are some practical benefits people of all walks and pages can benefit from:
Endorphins, which make you feel better, also help you concentrate and stay cognitively alert for tasks at hand. Exercise also promotes the formation of new brain cells and aids in the prevention of age-related deterioration.
Regular physical activity is an asset in the mind, body, and soul. When it becomes a habit, it can boost your self-esteem and make you feel strong and capable. You’ll feel more energized and have a sense of achievement if you achieve even modest exercise goals.
Gives more energy
Boosting your heart rate several times each week will give you extra vigor in your step. Start with 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increase your workout routines as you feel more energized.
Having Stronger resilience
When presented with mental or emotional obstacles in life, exercise can make you resilient instead of turning to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behavior that will only worsen your symptoms. When you exercise on a regular basis, you also help yourself in enhancing your immune system and lessening the impact of stress.
Being able to sleep better
If you are suffering from insomnia, exercising regularly can help you to sleep better. Even short periods of exercise in the morning or afternoon can contribute to the management of your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, calming exercises such as yoga or simple stretching can benefit your sleep.
Overcoming Obstacles to Doing Exercise
Even though you know that exercise will make us happier, taking the initial step is always easier said than done. Obstacles to exercising are rather real, particularly if you are also dealing with a mental health issue.
Here are some hurdles to exercising and how you can beat them:
Lack of Energy
When you’re fatigued, unhappy, or upset, it is easier to think that working out will make you feel much worse. However, physical activity is a great energizer.
Regular exercise has been cited in studies that can substantially lower fatigue and increase energy levels. If you’re feeling extremely exhausted, give yourself a 5-minute walk. You’ll likely have more energy and be able to walk for longer once you get moving.
Lack of Time
This is the most common pain point especially for those who are just starting to work out and are busy at work. When you’re worried or depressed, the idea of adding another responsibility to your very day might be overwhelming. Working out just does not seem to be a realistic option.
We understand you especially now that the demands at work keep on increasing. But remember that taking care of yourself is an investment too.
Having Medical Conditions
If you have physical limitations, a significant weight problem, arthritis, or any other condition or illness that limits your mobility, seek medical advice about safe exercise options.
Pain should not be disregarded; rather, do what you can, when you can. If it helps, break up your workout into shorter, more frequent sessions, or try exercising in water to relieve joint or muscle pain.
Lack of Confidence
Are you skeptical about your own progress? It is normal to feel that way especially if you have high expectations of yourself, but small progress is still progressing in its greatest sense.
It’s time to be confident and support yourself in the process. There are many people in the same situation as you, irrespective of your weight, age, or fitness condition. The most important thing is that you don’t give up.
Moreover, you don’t have to pressure yourself to achieve big results right away. Also, even if you’ve never exercised before, you can still find ways to comfortably get active. No one requires you to do weights or benches on the first day. You can start with usual routines such as walking or dancing.
Tips on How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle
Maintaining an active lifestyle is not an easy feat. It takes effort, time, and great will to remain healthy especially if you have a lot of responsibilities at home and work. Nevertheless, here are some of the effective and manageable ways on how you can start and keep an active lifestyle.
F.I.T.T. is an acronym that stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise. These are the four factors to consider when designing workouts to meet your goals and fitness level. The F.I.T.T. principle describes how to adjust your program to get in shape and achieve greater results. It also teaches you how to vary your routines to avoid boredom, overuse injuries, and weight reduction.
f you are a beginner, walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace three times a week could be a good starting point. However, your body adjusts to these workouts within a few weeks, and numerous things may occur such as burning calories, slimmer body, and motivation to work out more.
Exercise with a Friend
An African proverb says, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This remains true even when you exercise. Another benefit of exercise on mental health, though may not be categorized under the medical aspect, is having a friend to join and motivate you in the process.
Having an exercise buddy can keep you accountable for your progress. Knowing that you have someone along the journey can keep you motivated and excited as well.
Try Different Things
Setting a routine in your physical activities can promote the mental benefits of exercise in terms of not worrying too much about what type of activities you should be doing. However, there are times that we need to break the ice.
Exploring different things as forms of exercise can help. You can focus on calisthenics in the first quarter, and shift to another relevant routine on the next.
Connecting with others and doing group exercises like dancing or playing group sports is also a great way to improve your mental health while improving your social relationships.
As most experts say, the body can adapt to a wide range of demands, from high-intensity exercise to gradual, steady-state activity, when there is variety in an exercise routine.
Work on It One Step at a Time
Exercising to improve your mental and physical health will always be a personal battle. It is not a race so you do not have to compare your progress with anyone else. Each of us has a different body composition as well as circumstances.
Take one step at a time and enjoy the journey. Make it more fun by doing exercise routines with family and friends. As mental and emotional health can be improved through exercise, relationships can be improved by keeping in touch with your loved ones too.
Conclusion on the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Exercising should not be taken as a burden in our busy life. It is actually a fun and productive experience we should always look forward to.
Aside from the benefits of exercise on mental health discussed in this article, meeting new people, learning new routines, and improving your physical health are just some of the many fruits you can reap. Take advantage of the time when you can still exercise, which is today, and your body will thank you tomorrow.