How physical activity benefits your mental health
Everyone knows that when we exercise, our bodies release a chemical called endorphins often referred to as "happy hormones" And while we would like to personally slap that one lady in our family saying: " Well, Marc wouldn't be depressed if he just exercised more" for being ignorant, we hate to admit that there is some truth to that statement.
Our mental health includes our psychological, emotional and social well-being and can affect the way we think, feel, act and handle stressful situations. Nowadays, mental health has become a popular topic among adults as we have become more and more aware of the importance of taking care of our mental health. It is the single most important part of "self-love". As mental health has become a much talked about topic, especially on social media, people started realizing that stress, depression, anxiety, mood fluctuations and other self-esteem issues are far more common than what we previously believed.
Since these mental health issues are so prevalent in the 21st century, we found it interesting to find that our physical health can improve our mental health greatly. Let us look at a few factors.
Exercise can aid depression and anxiety
It is a scientific fact that exercising can boost your mood which helps decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activities will boost your endorphin levels which give your feelings of contentment and euphoria. It has been found that even moderate exercise during the week can improve depression and anxiety. Even some doctors would recommend exercising for a while before turning to medication since everyone has felt a "dip" somewhere in their lives and it can often be the result of being unhappy with your physical fitness and lack of motivation. While as little as a brisk 30-minute walk may help reduce symptoms of depression, it doesn't mean that the more you exercise the less you will feel depressed. We recommend a moderate amount of exercise every week to keep those endorphins running high, however you need to stay on those meds if you need them tough.
Okay, not literally goodbye, you still need to pay your rent that is due in two days. But yet another mental health benefit of exercising is reduced stress levels. No one is immune to stress, we all experience it at some point in our lives and some of us stress every day. Did you know that stress-induced brain damage can be reversed by simply increasing your heart rate? Putting on those Nikes for a quick jog can literally reverse the damage caused by yesterdays' board meeting. Increasing your heart rate through exercise reverses this damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones such as norepinephrine which improves your thinking clouded by stressful situations. Not only that, but it also improves your cognitive ability and mood. Exercising also forces the central and sympathetic nervous systems in our bodies to communicate with one another, which improves the body's overall ability to respond to stress.
Increase your self-esteem
The extremely high standards we set for ourselves when it comes to our fitness levels or appearance are largely to blame for our depressed and anxious feelings. Even just having an Instagram account and comparing ourselves daily is largely conducive to the way we feel about ourselves. Feelings of being unworthy, being too this or too that can really give your self-esteem a real knock and bad about yourself, is a sure way to get you feeling depressed, sad, stressed-out and anxious. The physical achievements and results that come about from physical exercise is not only a boost to your self-esteem since you are looking a lot cuter in your jeans, it will also boost your self-confidence as you start to see how far your can push yourself, to challenge your capabilities and to crush your goals as you go along. How we feel about ourselves plays a major part in our daily moods. So even if you are in the best shape of your life, celebrating milestones like running your first 5km or taking up boxing are things that will get your self-confidence where it needs to be which is overall very good for your mental health.
Science has shown us that there is a direct correlation between sleep and many mental health issues. If you are suffering from depression, there is a great chance that you struggle to sleep at night and vice versa. Many factors can contribute to a persons' sleeplessness, however, in most cases, insomnia is linked to stress, anxiety, trauma or depression. If you are one of those who struggle to sleep as a result of a mental health issue, exercise may help for that too. Physical activity increases the bodies temperature which has a calming effect on the mind which can help you fall asleep faster. Exercising can also help your body to regulate your circadian rhythm which is responsible for letting our bodies know when we should feel tired and when we should feel alert. Although an intense gym session, followed by a soothing sauna session may help you get a good nights' rest in, we don't recommend exercising too close to your bedtime as this can actually do the opposite of what we are trying to achieve by impacting your heart rate and sleep cycle in the wrong way.
Exercise can boost your brain-power in several ways from your intelligence to better memory. Studies conducted using mice as well as humans have indicated that cardiovascular exercise causes neurogenesis which is the creation of new brain cells. This improves the brains overall performance. Exercising can even prevent memory and prevents cognitive decline by strengthening the hippocampus (the part responsible for learning and memory). There has also been evidence, showing us that physical exercise can boost your mental energy and creativity. So if you want your brain to perform at an optimal level, you need to start getting active.
Better quality of life
In the end, there is literally no down-sides to exercising. The benefits of exercise are simply too many to list while the con's of exercising may only be that we don't really feel up to it, or that we might get injured. From lowering your blood pressure and strengthening your heart to reducing stress and boosting your mood, it is clear that exercising can only improve your quality of life. The great part of it all is that you don't need to run a marathon to experience these above mentioned benefits of exercising, doing as little as going for a walk three times a week is enough for your overall health to be affected.
Your mental health is important to us. Now that we know how exercising can improve our mental health situations greatly, it is time to get going. If you feel up to it, you can even mention your mental health issue to your trainer at fitness fables. We know that suffering from stress, depression or anxiety can have a large impact on the way you go about your workout, and we are here to motivate and inspire you. We have never had a single person leave our gym facility feeling down, we aim to get your pumped, motivate you to reach your goals and get your physical fitness where it needs to be so you can live a happy and healthy life.
Includes 4 weeks access to our personal training app