Exercise and Mental Health

It’s no secret that mental health is an important topic. Awareness on the subject matter is becoming more public; and I would like to assume it is because we are realizing it isn’t just a fad, but I think it is more because of the rise in suicides and school shootings as of late. Mental health isn’t just a “feeling” or a “trend”. It is a real life problem that deals with a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are many things that could be contributing to the issue, but social media and the pressure to get “likes” has a big part in it. What people don’t often realize is that while there are many serious mental health issues that need to be treated through pharmaceuticals, many symptoms can be treated and even cured through the help of healthy dieting and consistent exercise. If you’re thinking about starting to get in shape, try this advanced hiit workout that can be done from the comfort of your own home.

But because that isn’t going away anytime soon, let’s dive into the science of mental health and how exercise can actually benefit it!

For those who struggle with mental illness, exercise can be one of the hardest things to do. It takes a lot of effort to find the motivation to workout, and then actually going through the workout takes energy. For someone who deals with anxiety or depression, this can be a huge turn off and can sometimes cause us to want to “conserve” said energy for things like…getting out of bed and going to work. But I am here to tell you that movement creates energy! Yes, moving is going to cause you to expend energy, but it is also going to create it. When we move, we are forming chemical bonds that are then going to be used later on. So this means…energy creates energy!

Exercise for anxiety and depression has been studied for many years, and continues to be every day. With mental health as a hot topic, and self harm at an all time high…I think it is important to note that mental illness is a chronic disease. Whether it be from the food we are eating, our lifestyle, or a chemical imbalance..it’s no secret that most of us know someone who suffers with anxiety and/or depression. And that is not to be taken lightly.

            A few benefits of exercise on mental health include:

  • Release of endorphins – the feel good hormones! Increasing the levels of endorphins in the body has a huge correlation with overall mood and energy levels.
  • Normalize sleep – if we are not sleeping, we are not going to be in the right state of mind. We all know what that “brain fog” feels like after a night of terrible sleep. Exercise can ensure you are falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
  • Brain health – exercising can actually “toughen up the brain” so that stress has less of an impact on it. Just like working out strengthens muscles, it strengthens the brain, too!
  • Confidence boost – we all know the feeling of physical changes that occur from exercise! If we feel good overall, everything else starts to fall into place.
  • Healthier habits – once we exercise, we also start to clean up our diet and lifestyle. This means better food choices, and better lifestyle habits which all lead to a boost in overall health!

These are all things that can benefit anyone, but those with mental health issues have seen more progress. The fact of the matter is, exercise has a huge impact on the brain (just like diet does) and mental health diseases stem from the brain. This means if we take care of that one organ and do everything we can to support it, we are going to start reaping the benefits. That is why exercise for mental health is so important and beneficial!