Physical Activity and Mental Health
Did you know that exercise is crucial in maintaining your mental health? Our bodies are remarkable and when given the correct tools. Exercise has been shown to help regulate stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. In the article “Get Moving to Manage Stress,” written by authors from the Mayo Clinic, we read, “After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity regularly, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do…regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.4”
Endorphins: What Are They?
When exercising, your body releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. These endorphins are responsible for sending signals within your nervous system that result in mood stabilization, pain relief and the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol found throughout your body.
Exercise for Mental Health
We know that any kind of exercise is essential for a healthy mind and body. A writer from the Results Gym in Scotland shared the following experience- “I have been personal training for more than ten years and have worked with numerous clients who suffer from depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. There is no doubt that exercise really is the best prescription for improving our mental health…When we exercise, the levels of chemicals in our brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins change. As a result, we sleep better, we have more energy, and we have an outlet for any frustrations…I can understand that, for a lot of people, being in a gym environment is extremely daunting, but even going out for a walk can do wonders for the mind3.”
Working out for mental health will help you, no matter what exercise you choose to do. Be patient with yourself and set goals that you can achieve. Keep a journal to record how you are feeling after each physical activity that you participate in. Over time you will be able to see and feel the effects of exercise on your mental health.