Mental health has never been more “under attack” more at any given point in history than it is today. The usual method of treatment is to prescribe medications, but what if there was a simple activity like exercising that could also help? Here are some of the aspects of how exercise can affect your mental health.
Why Is Mental Health Important?
Mental health is a big concept, and it represents emotional, social, and psychological well-being. It affects and determines so many essential aspects of our lives, such as what we think, how we feel, how we conduct ourselves towards others, and how we make choices. Mental health is crucial at every life stage, especially during childhood and adolescence. Some of the most common factors that contribute to impaired mental health are a history of mental health problems in your family, traumatic life experiences, and it can also be biological (brain chemicals imbalance). Mental health problems are quite common but can be treated quite successfully which can lead to complete recovery.
No Happy Hormones
One of the simplest things that have a lot of positive impact on mental health is an exercise of any kind. It’s quite simple to explain. When a person works out, hormones are released into the bloodstream because they will alleviate the physical discomfort that comes with working out. The hormones in charge are endorphin and serotonin, also known as “the happy hormones”. This is the body’s natural way of making itself feel better. Another aspect of exercising that can help with mental health problems is that it gets you out of the house (in most cases) thus allowing you to interact with other people, which in turn can help.
You Can’t Think Clearly
Some of the less commonly known functions of our muscular system are that it helps with pumping blood back into the heart. This is especially important in the lower extremities, as the gravity makes it harder for the blood to return to the heart. This is how exercise can help your mental health by pumping more blood into your brain which can help you think more clearly. Some articles suggest that it can impact the size of your hippocampus which is the part of the brain where memories are being stored. Exercise also makes more connections between the nerve cells in the brain, thus promoting better memory as well.
One of the most common mental health issues nowadays is anxiety in ranges from mild to severe. Some experts suggest there have been more diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder in the last couple of years than ever recorded before. This is where exercising can certainly help because it boosts both physical and mental energy. One aspect of it is the release of, as we’ve mentioned before, the happy hormones. The other aspect that helps with anxiety is that it helps you be more mindful by focusing for example on the pace you are running at, instead of zoning out. Exercise, especially if done outdoors can help a person be more mindful, which helps to combat anxiety.
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Another most common mental health problem is depression. Many studies have shown that getting enough exercise regularly can have the same impact as antidepressant medication, but with no side effects. The level of exercise needed to decrease the depression symptoms to at least 75% is to take 10 minute walks every day. It’s as simple as that and as beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Some of the ways exercise can indirectly treat some of the symptoms is by, of course, releasing endorphin and serotonin, but it also initiates the making of new activity patterns which directly give a feeling of calmness. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation, which can sometimes be related to depression.
No Stress Relief
One of the most general benefits of getting regular exercise is that it helps relieve the stress caused by the fast-paced world, social media, and very often problems at the workplace. Working out can help with all of that. People simply get to blow off some steam by quite literally burning off some calories. The more vigorous the exercise the more effective the benefits. This is especially true with any kind of martial art training. Working out is one sure way to zone out of the mindset that is causing you stress, and to use that negative energy to relax, and become calmer in the long run.
Mental health is one of the crucial aspects of an overall healthy and increased quality of life. This is why exercising is such an important activity that should be implemented in our daily lives.