Exercise is Crucial to Mental Health
While exercise is first thought of as supporting the health of our bodies, research shows it offers as much if not more benefit to our mental health and well being.
Most discussions about exercise's benefits, though, focus on those that are physical. Doctors cite exercise's role in combatting heart disease and helping people control their weight. Women are advised to undertake regular weight-bearing exercise to strengthen their bones and counter the effects of osteoporosis.
While these are all real and compelling reasons to exercise, it turns out that exercise also has mental and mood benefits. Engaging in regular exercise can help alleviate the effects of depressive episodes and disorders in both children and adults. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have even found that children who were regularly and consistently active were less likely to suffer from depression later on in life.
Why, exactly, can exercise so directly affect your mental wellness? Here are a few of our reasons:
It releases endorphins.
When you are active, your body releases endorphins. Some runners call it the "runner's high," but you can also experience it in other forms of activity or exercise.
It can clear your mind.
Exercise takes us out of our heads and into our bodies, letting us experience the present moment with clarity. Sometimes that experience gives you valuable perspective.
It can get you out into the fresh air and stimulate your senses.
When you exercise outside, you have the benefits of activity, changing scenery, and nature together. These add up to a lot of positive stimulation to enrich your senses.
It can allow you to connect with others.
When your exercise life combines with your social life, through a fitness class, workout buddy, or even a social media exercise group, you have extra support, motivation, and accountability.
It can give you a goal and a purpose.
Wellness is about a healthy body, but it's also about finding joy, purpose, and fulfillment in life. When you fulfill measurable, achievable, and realistic goals for activity and fitness the positive boost can last a long time.
It can bolster your self-confidence.
Exercise can help you feel better about your body, which in turn can help you develop healthier thought patterns and a more positive approach to life.
Exercise is often recommended as a first step to counter the effects of anxiety, depression, and other disorders. When and if exercise is not enough, though, reach out for the help you need to seek relief.
Guada Psychological Services