How Exercise Can Affect Your Mental Health
Many people have the misconception that physical health and mental health are mutually exclusive. However, according to Harvard Medical School, this is not true! In fact, the two are so interconnected that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Exercise, whether it’s running, weight lifting or swimming can be used as both a form of physical therapy and as a type of psychological therapy by helping you to feel better about yourself and your life. Here are some of the ways exercise can affect your mental health in positive ways.
Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health
Exercise has been shown to benefit the mental health of adults and children alike. Exercise is a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety, which are two factors that are important when it comes to depression. When people exercise, their bodies release endorphins, which make them feel better both physically and mentally. In addition, studies have found that as little as 20 minutes of physical activity per day can be beneficial for someone who has depression. Exercise also benefits those with bipolar disorder by stabilizing their moods. The calming effects of some types of exercises, such as yoga or tai chi may be beneficial for those with schizophrenia or psychotic disorders by preventing the onset of manic or depressive episodes.
The Difference Between Physical Activity and Exercise
Physical activity is any type of movement that gets your body moving and heart rate up. Exercise is a planned, repetitive physical activity with the goal of improving one or more components of physical fitness (strength, aerobic capacity, flexibility, or balance). The key difference between physical activity and exercise is that exercise involves making a conscious effort to improve a specific component of fitness.
Physical activity and exercise have many benefits for both our physical and mental wellbeing. They are linked to lower risks for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as improved mental health. Regular physical activity has been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety disorder, depression and insomnia. Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress levels which in turn reduces cortisol levels in the body (stress hormone) which helps keep us healthy!
Tips on Increasing Physical Activity in Your Daily Life
-If you drive to work, park at the far end of the lot and walk. It may not seem like much but it does add up over time.
-Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. I know this isn’t always possible, but if you have a choice, take the stairs. It’s great for your heart and lungs.
-Get off the bus or subway a stop early and walk to your destination. You’ll get some extra fresh air in no time! -Walk with friends when you are out on the town. Walking is low impact so go ahead and have a few drinks after that long day at work. Walking is also good because it gives you time to catch up with your friends about everything that has been happening in their lives as well as giving them updates on yours.
-Stretch every morning before getting out of bed. Stretch out all those muscles that tighten overnight and feel tight during the day too. When you stretch, try and focus on deep breathing which will help relax your body from head to toe.
Getting Started with Exercising
There are many reasons to start exercising. For example, people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Exercise has also been shown to help with anxiety and depression. If you’re new to the world of fitness or need some help getting started there are a few guidelines you should follow:
– Start small. Whether it’s walking around your neighborhood once or twice a day, do something that is manageable for you and work your way up from there.
– Set realistic goals for yourself and don’t get discouraged if you don’t reach them the first time around.
Signs That You Need to See a Doctor About Your Mental Health
If you’re feeling really down, hopeless, or like things will never get better, it might be time to talk to a doctor. Here are some signs that you might need to talk to somebody about your mental health:
– You think about suicide or hurting yourself.
– You feel very down and cry a lot more than usual.
– You don’t enjoy doing the things you used to enjoy.
– You have trouble going about your day and paying attention at work or school. – You have low energy and no motivation.
– Your sleep is restless and disturbed.
– Your appetite changes so much that you’ve lost weight without trying or gained weight without trying.
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to seek help! Mental illness is not something anyone has to go through alone!
What to Do If You Are Struggling With Anxiety or Depression
It is often easy to overlook the effects of anxiety and depression on our physical health. That is why it is important for you to know how exercise might help improve your mental health! Exercise does not cure depression or anxiety, but it has been shown to be an effective treatment for both conditions. Many studies have found that regular physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem, and enhances overall quality of life. In addition, research indicates that people who engage in regular physical activity are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses that are more prevalent in people with depression or anxiety.