The benefits of exercise is widespread. It is good for all aspects of your life. Physical and emotional. If you want to be a physically and emotionally healthy person, then regular exercise will definitely help. Studies are beginning to mount that significantly link exercise to an improved mental health status. If you are emotionally stable, if you struggle with depression or anxiety, even if you suffer from stress, ADHD, PTSD or trauma, exercise can have a positive effect on your mental health.
Improve your mood.
Exercising lifts your mood immediately. A number of studies now have shown that exercise can have a significant positive effect on treating depression. It has been found that exercise is just as good as taking anti-depressants. Minus the negative side effects. People who live active lifestyles have reduced incidences of depression and report a more positive outlook on life. When you exercise all sorts of great things are happening in your body for your brain. You are increasing blood flow, promoting neural growth, reducing inflammation and exercise releases powerful endorphins (happy feelings) that make you feel good. Exercising is a good escape from the pains, realities and stressors of life, allowing you to break out of the negative thought cycle that feed depression.
Regular exercise can also help reduce the risk of slipping back into a depressive episode. A study in 2000 showed that participants who exercised regularly were less likely to relapse than those taking regular medication. Plus in many of the studies, the compliance to exercise was just as good as participants compliance to taking regular medication. It is a cheaper and more enjoyable alternative to taking medication for depression. Exercise boosts your outlook on life by helping you to return to meaningful activity and goal achievement. It reduces your stress and strengthens your brain. “Exercise may be a way of biologically toughening up the brain so stress has less of a central impact,” Michael Otto, PhD Psychology.
Exercising also helps to naturally regulate your response to a fight or flight situation. People who are prone to anxiety are less likely to panic when they feel a fight or flight response happening in their body. When you exercise, your body produces a number of the same physical reactions as to a fight or flight situation. You become sweaty and your heart rate goes up. Researches theorise that exercise is like exposure treatment to a flight or fight response in your body, enabling you to practise assessing the situation as safe and then control the panic. When you exercise, you can practise assessing the situation by noticing the physical elements around you, the physical sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the rhythm of your breathing. Interval training is great as it gives you something to focus on and push through to achieve a goal. Practising mindfulness while you run will help you exit worries that go round and round your head.
There is good evidence that exercise is beneficial for improving your mental health status. How much exercise to do is still debated upon. The main message out there is to just start and then work up to it being regular – at least 30mins a few times a week. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise is good. The most important thing is that you are able to do it and that you actually enjoy it. You are not going to get as much of an endorphin hit if you are hating the exercise form. Pick something you enjoy! And for added mental boost, take it outside to breathe in the fresh air. Do whatever you need to do to motivate yourself to get moving. Wear joggers all day. Dress in active wear. Buy a gym membership, or set yourself up with a good bike. Identify the things that block your motivation and knock them down. The positive effect on your mood is too good to ignore!
Not yet convinced?
If you’re still having trouble being convinced that you should start regularly exercising, here’s a list to motivate you.
- Improve self-confidence. Physically alone, you will start to be fitter and look healthier, in turn making you feel better about yourself.
- Enjoy the outdoors. The fresh air and the vitamin D absorbed from the sun will boost your mood.
- Prevent cognitive decline. Exercise strengthens your brain and helps prevent the degeneration of your grey matter.
- Sharpen your memory. Getting active helps you to learn new things!
- Improve your brain function. The increased blood flow and muscle concentration helps to get your brain working better.
- Help control addiction. Exercising is a positive reward that will help to ward off cravings when you’re trying to quit.
- Increase relaxation. Using up all your energy helps you to sleep better.
- Get more done. People who exercise report they get more done because they have more energy after exercise.
- Tap into your creativity. The refreshing of body and brain after a jog enables you to let go of distraction and tasks and enter the realms of possibility.
Come and join us at AJ’s today to boost your mood and help you control your mental health. We guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face!