Everyone understands regular exercise is a necessary part of their physical health. Most doctors will recommend getting at least thirty minutes of moderately intense exercise five times a week to maintain good physical health. However, this is not the only aspect of your health exercise can influence. Regular exercise also has a significant positive influence on many mental illnesses and can even boost the mental health of anyone without a mental illness. Curious about how this happens? Start reading for the full details!
Loosen Tense Muscles
Most patients with anxiety, or even for individuals undergoing a stressful period, experience tense muscles. They can feel quite ‘wired’ and on guard when these moods strike. However, quality exercise helps loosen muscles and relieve this pent-up tension. The right exercise session can even lessen the tension enough to get rid of the anxiety entirely for a little while. Although most exercises are good at doing this, perhaps the best is yoga, since the goal is to stretch your muscles and improve your flexibility and strength. Regardless of your chosen exercise, however, one of the best things you can do, not only for safety but also to loosen tense muscles, is to have both a stretch warm up and cool down period as part of your routine.
Continue reading for another way exercise can positively influence your mental health.
Interrupt Flow Of Negative Thoughts
Most types of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder have a form of unwanted thoughts, whether it is wondering if you left the oven on, worrying about something you said or what might happen, or negative thoughts about self-image. Exercise is a phenomenal way to interrupt the flow of these unwanted thoughts. It gives the individual a chance to focus on the exact body movements - such as how they are bending their arms and keeping their ab muscles tight when doing a push-up - instead of these intruding thoughts. Of course, the difficulty of doing this depends on the individual exercising, but with practice, there is a clear link between interrupting these thoughts and regular exercise. Make it part of your routine for the best results.
Get happy with the next exercise that benefits your mental health.
Release Of Endorphins, The Happy Chemical
Have you ever heard about the body’s feel-good chemical? This chemical is also known as endorphins. Your body releases them during exercise, and they can help focus your mind, reduce the impact of pain on your body, and improve your mood. In fact, some reports indicate the endorphins released during exercise have much of the same effect as traditional anxiety medication, and the results can last for hours afterward, and over time can lessen the severity overall. Of course, more studies need to be done, and one method of treatment does not necessarily work for everyone, but there is still evidence pointing towards endorphins’ positive effects. Besides, getting regular exercise will not hurt you, so there is no harm in trying out a new routine!
Continue reading for more mental health benefits of regular exercise.
Boost Self-Image And Self-Esteem
Being in shape helps individuals build confidence in their appearance, and boost their esteem when they reach even small exercise goals. All of these boosts in self-image, self-esteem, and self-confidence can only help manage mental health. When you feel better about yourself, the chances of stressors bothering you lessen and if they do bother you, the symptoms tend to be less severe. These benefits are especially helpful if an individual’s issues with mental health are closely linked to their self-image, particularly when it is their physical appearance.
Continue reading and discover another way in which regular exercise influences an individual’s response to stress.
Manage Your Response To Stress
Stress is well-integrated into many mental illnesses. For the most part, an individual with a mental illness, such as generalized anxiety disorder, often find they get stressed out much easier than someone without the mental illness. This is similar to how someone with an illness compromising their immune system tends to fall ill with the cold, flu, or other physical diseases easier.
The good news is exercise can do a lot to improve the body’s response to stress. As mentioned previously, exercise releases endorphins, but this is not the only one. One of the stress-moderating chemicals your body produces is called norepinephrine. Low levels of norepinephrine have been linked to mental illnesses such as depression. Moderate exercise helps improve the body’s overall concentration of norepinephrine, which means existing stress and related symptoms of depression can lessen as a result. Continued regular exercise can help maintain the levels of this chemical over extended periods, which provides you with the tools required to manage stress better overall. Continue for more information on how exercise helps boost mental health.
Increase Relaxation Before Sleep
Insomnia, which refers to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, is often listed as a symptom of poor mental health, whether it is officially diagnosed as a mental illness or not. Regular exercise in the evening can help release the tension in your body, which helps prepare it for sleep, so you can fall asleep faster and hopefully remain asleep for the majority (or all) of the night. The best exercise immediately before bed for assistance with insomnia is, of course, yoga, since the slow sequence of yoga eases muscle tension, increases flexibility, and focuses on your breathing without causing too much sweat. Intense exercise immediately before bed will keep your body running for longer, which is why it is best practiced in the early evening, and something like yoga is beneficial just before you climb into bed for the night.
Increase Social Interaction
Yes, you can exercise in the comfort of your home if you choose. However, when your mental health is poor, exercise is a great way to incorporate social interaction into your schedule without becoming overwhelmed. Thus, exercising at a gym or taking a fitness class at a studio helps you be around others without too much pressure for conversation unless you want to engage. The mere presence of others during your exercise can be enough to boost your mood. Find a supportive environment that works for you! You can even bring a friend along to the class or the gym to help increase your comfort if this is something that makes you uncomfortable.