Exercise does wonders to your body like increasing your cardiovascular health and gaining muscles as you are well aware of it!
Did you know that you can change your mood by moving your body?
When we feel low, we tend to curl up in our own space and wait it out till we feel better.
Picking up an exercise routine can help improve your sleep, and help you deal with anxiety, stress, depression and more!
Exercising is a natural mood-lifter that helps activate your brain neurons to do more!
Get shaking and moving already!
Studies have shown that physical activity will help prevent the onset of mental health problems.
According to a study of 1.2 million US citizens published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, people who exercise reported having 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health per month than people who do not exercise.
Team sports, aerobics, cycling, yoga and working out at the gym contributed to the reduction of poor mental health by 43.2% where it was 2 days for people who exercised vs. 3.4 days for people who did not exercise.
Nothing beats living a good life with healthy lifestyle changes where exercise should be number 1 in your list to include in your daily routine.
With the rising metabolic syndrome issues, moving your body is a cost-effective strategy to improve your health and quality of life.
To get inspired to exercise, read about the health benefits of working out for your relationships, mental health, and general health and happiness.
How Physical Activity Can Improve Your Well-Being
Physical activity boosts your mood, mental well-being and overall outlook.
Exercise and physical activity has many benefits:
- Enhance happy chemicals: Exercise is linked to alleviating sadness and so, doctors suggest patients who are sad, anxious or depressed to exercise as it can be considered a natural antidepressant. Going for a run for 30 minutes a week can help improve your mood by releasing endorphins which induce emotions of joy and bliss where you will feel better even if you are not feeling okay.
- Reduce stress hormones: Exercise helps reduce your cortisol levels. Exercising regularly will help you reduce stress from current events and provide immunity against future stress. You can manage your physical and emotional tension by working up your sweat. Norepinephrine is produced in higher quantities during exercise that helps reduce your brain’s reaction to stress.
- Build stronger resilience: Exercise will help distract you from negative thoughts and emotions and direct your attention to the task at hand inducing a zen-like state. You will develop resilience through this and cope with your struggles in life in healthier ways.
- Promotes confidence: Exercise can help tone your body, maintain a healthy weight, and keep a smile on your face. As your appearance improves and you give out a stronger aura, you will feel uplifted with an increased self-esteem and positive self-image.
- Sharpen memory: Exercises help release endorphins which not only alleviates your mood but also helps in concentration making you feel intellectually alert for the activity at hand. Working your body also promotes the development of new brain cells that protects you from age-related mental decline like dementia.
Why Exercise Is Good For Your Mental Health?
There are particular mental health illnesses that can be helped by exercising as recommended by mental health specialists.
Exercise helps mental health illnesses like:
Anxiety, Stress and Panic Disorder
We have all experienced feelings of anxiety at some point in our lives where our heart rate increases and we feel nervous and easy.
To help calm your nerves, you need to get your body moving!
Through the release of endorphins, your feelings of tension and stress decreases, while your physical and mental energy increases.
Paying attention to tiny details like the sound of your breathing rate or the wind blowing to your ears will help your thoughts be more focused.
Incorporating mindfulness in your workouts will help stop the constant stream of anxieties that go through your head.
Having a consistent exercise routine can help reduce other co-occurring diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome that gets triggered with stress and anxiety.
Exercise can also be a proactive method for those with panic disorders to let out pent-up stress and lessen emotions of anxiety and worry.
In some circumstances, exercise can help lessen the severity and frequency of panic attacks through the release of endorphins that helps boost your mood.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Annoyed that you have episodes of being hyperactive and lose your focus?
You need to shake your body to improve your attention!
Exercising regularly is one of the most efficient strategies to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and enhance focus, memory, motivation and mood.
Through exercise, your brain releases dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels all of which help improve your focus and attention.
Physically moving can also help with your motor skills and executive function enabling you to plan, focus and remember instructions better.
Do you feel stuck in your own sadness and sorrow?
Looking for a way to get out of the cycle of depression?
Exercise is a highly effective depression fighter!
According to studies, exercise can help treat mild to severe depression just as antidepressant medicines minus the side effects.
A study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered that walking for an hour or running for 15 minutes significantly reduced the risks of depression by 26%.
You will also avoid relapsing to your lower state of mind by exercising regularly so be sure to keep your exercise routine consistent.
Consistent exercise encourages neuronal development, decreased inflammation and new activity patterns that foster emotions of peace and wellbeing.
Your pessimistic thought processes will be diverted through regular exercise enabling you to find some quiet time for yourself.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Exhausted with the repeated cycles of traumatic thoughts and emotions?
Looking to manage the flashbacks, nightmares and flared thoughts?
Paying close attention to your body and how it feels when exercising will help regulate your clogged nervous system and get it pumping.
Focusing on the physical sensations of your body like your joints, muscles and internal organs as you move instead of letting your thoughts wander will help redirect your attention to attune to your body.
You can try cross-movement exercises that include both your arms and legs like swimming, running, and dancing to help cope with your trauma.
Outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing help improve your PTSD symptoms as you engage yourself in endorphin-releasing movements.
Exercising will also help lessen other PTSD symptoms like melancholy, sleep and heart troubles.
How To Start With An Exercise Routine?
We all know how important exercise is to our bodies but, there are still many of us who neglect exercising with the fast-paced world we live in now.
Here are some tips to get your exercise game on!
- Find your goal: Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Things get easier as we question ourselves and live consciously with a purpose. So, it is important to discover your “why” before starting your exercise routine. Once you establish your interest and goals, it will be easier for you to stick with your plan when things get tough which happens in life.
- Set realistic goals: It is important to start small with bite-sized goals especially when it comes to your health. Set a few mini-goals that you can achieve in a short amount of time like running for 30 minutes for 3 days in a week. Once you complete this goal then you can add more days.
- Embrace the 3X10 rule: If fitting in a 30-minute time block for exercise does not seem practical for you then try breaking it into smaller chunks. The goal is to start and continue with what you start with. So, for example, you can take a 10-minute walk in the morning and another 10-minute walk at lunch and end your day with a 10-minute walk before dinner. This will help create a schedule for you in the beginning which you can later swap with yoga or full-body workout.
- Get a friend involved: Having an accountability partner can help keep you motivated especially if you are the kind of person who needs social interaction. Make a routine with your friend to meet for a workout say for 3 days a week. Keep it consistent by setting a time, date and location that works for you both where you both work together in sending each other reminders and can even cover up missed workout routines by setting up a virtual workout date!
- Download a workout application: There are many fitness applications with workout routines that range from yoga to cardio and resistance training. Many applications offer free trials which you can try before settling for the right one for you. This will help manage your time better as you have additional help from the application.
- Find the exercise that works for you: The exercise routine that works for someone else may not work for you so, find out the one that works for you. Start exercising at different times of the day to see which time works for you. Try exercising alone and with your friends to see what keeps you going. Exercise with music or go for a run into nature. Keep experimenting until you find what works for you as it will help with maintaining consistency that will give you better mental health outcomes.
Physical exercise or getting your body to move helps give you an enormous sense of well-being.
This is what usually motivates people to stay active.
Make exercise your outlet to release your mental health problems.
Shaking and moving your body will give you a great energy boost for you to sleep better, have sharper memories and make you feel good about yourself.
It is a powerful starting medicine for many common mental health challenges.
You don’t need to be a heavy gymnast taking hours from your busy days to exercise, rather having just about 30 minutes of moderate exercise like jogging is sufficient.
The goal is to make a daily commitment to engaging in some modest physical activity, however small to maintain your mental health.
It’s crucial to speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise program to establish the optimum type of activity and amount of intensity according to your physical condition.
Your capacity to exercise is influenced by your medical background, current medications, and any diseases that have been diagnosed.
Ask your doctor about ways to include physical activity in your treatment if you have mental illness symptoms or are receiving care from a mental health practitioner.
Make exercise a regular fun activity of your day!
Happy moving and shaking to feel better!
-How much exercise do I need to do to get rid of my stress and anxiety?
Getting some activity for just 30 minutes every 3 to 5 days a week will have a drastic impact on your mental health. Regular exercise can help reduce your anxiety and stress just as effectively as medications which will last longer. Not to mention physical activity helps you feel less anxious and helps you be more resilient to stress where the flight-or-fright response becomes less reactive after exercise.
-How long do I need to wait to see the mental health benefits of physical exercise?
You will get a mood-boost effect and a euphoric feeling after 5-10 minutes of moderate physical activity. After just one session of exercise, you will see a noticeable improvement in your cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, memory and decision making with the help of the release of important hormones that help with your brain activity. The benefits of exercise go beyond the immediate where you will notice changes within 3-5 weeks after beginning a regular exercise regimen which will help improve your mental health overtime.
-How often do I need to participate in physical activity to see mental health benefits?
You will need to allot 150 minutes per week of moderate level physical activity to help maintain your mental health as recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines. You can divide this time into 5-days a week of daily 30-minute sessions with exercises that get your heart beating faster. You don’t have to become a top athlete to see the benefits of physical activity to your mental health but, it is important to be consistent with at least 15-30 minutes a day to see changes in your mood and wellbeing. After starting with a moderate-intensity aerobic activity, you can then add 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity to make your muscles work harder than usual.
Greer, T. L., Trombello, J. M., Rethorst, C. D., Carmody, T. J., Jha, M. K., Liao, A., Grannemann, B. D., Chambliss, H. O., Church, T. S., & Trivedi, M. H. (2016). Improvements in psychosocial functioning and health-related quality of life following exercise augmentation in patients with treatment response but non-remitted major depressive disorder: Results from the TREAD study. Depression and Anxiety, 33(9), 870–881. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22521
Sammi R Chekroud, Ralitza Gueorguieva, Amanda B Zheutlin, Martin Paulus, Harlan M Krumholz, John H Krystal, Adam M Chekroud. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X