Exercise is not just about your aerobic ability and how much weight you can lift. Sure, exercise improves physical health and can even improve your sex life and add years to your life. But, that’s not what generally motivates most people to stay active.
According to the National Institutes of Health, aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have reduced anxiety and depression. Regular exercise significantly affects depression, anxiety, and more. It helps relieve stress, improve memory, improve sleeping patterns, and boost your overall mood. The best thing is, you don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to gain these benefits.
Research indicates that even a moderate amount of exercise can make a difference. So, no matter how old you are or your fitness level, exercise is a powerful tool to help you feel better.
Studies have shown that exercise may be able to help treat mild to moderate depression. Exercise is a strong fighter against depression for many reasons. Most notably, it encourages all kinds of changes in the brain, which include neural growth, diminished inflammation, and new activity that promotes feelings of well-being. It also helps distribute endorphins, which are unique, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good.
Exercise can also serve as a distraction and gives you time to break out of the cycle of the negative thoughts that are feeding your depression.
Exercise is a natural and effective way to reduce anxiety. It alleviates tension and stress, increases physical and mental energy, and improves well-being by releasing endorphins. The goal is to get moving.
By adding the element of mindfulness, which is to focus on your body and how it feels, you’ll improve your physical condition faster. Still, you may also be able to disrupt the constant flow of worries running through your mind.
You may have noticed a change in your body when you’re stressed out. It usually comes with sore and tense muscles, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders. It often leaves people with back or neck pain or migraines.
You may feel stiffness in your chest or muscle cramps. Some people even have issues with insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. All of the worry and discomfort from these physical symptoms tend to lead to even more stress. It’s a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising is an effective and proven way to help you break this cycle. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which helps relax muscles and relieve tension. Since our body and mind are so closely connected, when you feel better physically, you’ll feel better mentally.
Regular exercise is an easy and effective way to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD. Exercise can help improve your concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels, affecting focus and attention.
Exercise is Essential for Overall Health
Health benefits from regular exercise that every mental health professional should reiterate to their patients include:
- Better sleep
- Heightened interest in sex
- Improved endurance
- Relief from stress
- Mood booster
- Better energy
- Enhanced stamina
- Increase mental alertness
- Weight loss
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
Even if you don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to a yoga routine or it’s hard to get in a workout at the gym, you should look at physical activity as a part of your lifestyle instead of a task you need to get over with. Even if you spend 20 minutes cleaning the house or your car – that is a form of physical activity. Yes, the tedious tasks like mopping the kitchen, tending to the garden, and washing the car are forms of physical activity.
Remember, when you live with an emotional disorder and haven’t exercised for a long time, try to set realistic goals for yourself. No one is expecting you to complete a marathon or kick butt in a Pilates class. Having high expectations from the get-go will only discourage you, and you’re more likely not to follow through. So, set goals are attainable, achieved, and build up from there.