EXERCISE & ITS IMPACT ON MENTAL HEALTH
Exercise is not just about improving aerobic health and muscle size. Exercise can improve your physical health and you’re physique, decrease your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. However for me it’s the mental benefits that are the most underrated.
Individuals who exercise tend to do so because it gives them a great sense of well-being. They feel as if they have more energy throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper minds, feel more positive about their appearance and have an overwhelming positive aura about their lives. It can also have a powerful impact on many common mental health challenges.
Exercise is a powerful depression suppressor for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth within the brain’s pathways, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, for any of you that don’t know what endorphins are they are defined as a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect making you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. One thing to note on the distraction element is that it’s important not to use exercise as a coping mechanism. You must talk about your negative feelings with someone. Otherwise you are just burying your emotions and feelings, which in the long run will come back to bite you in the ass. Big time.
You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or endure long, monotonous workouts to experience the many benefits of exercise. I’d recommend finding a form of exercise that you like. Whether it be pilates, HIIT or even walking and aim to start by performing 3 x 45 minute sessions a week and gradually building this up as your fitness improves. Overall exercise can help you start to feel better, look better, and get more out of life as a whole.
“ Exercise is the key to not only physical health but to peace of mind.”
– Nelson Mandela