Mental health is as important as your physical health. The world has become so competitive, our fast paced lives don’t give us a chance to pause and take a breather, and add to that the innumerable stress – all this has a cumulative effect on your health.
A healthy mind can only reside in a healthy body. Taking care of your health is a process – you need to eat right, meditate, workout, and practice positivity in general. It can be difficult to attain equilibrium at times, but the least you can do is give your 100%. People who exercise regularly have better mental health as compared to those who don’t exercise. Also, workout reduces the risk of mental illness. In simple words, it can be said that exercising helps to increase the volume of certain brain regions through better blood flow and increased oxygen delivery.
Here’s how workout improves your mental health-
We all know the benefits of exercise for our physical health. Weight loss and control, lower blood pressure, diabetes management, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and many more. But various studies have shown that regular exercise is great for emotional and mental health as well. Be it stress and anxiety management, fighting depression, handling mood swings, or eating disorders, exercising helps keep your body fit and active.
Image Source – healthfitnessrevolution.com
1. Help For Anxiety & Depression
An increasing number of people are affected by anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Exercise is a scientifically proven way to alleviate mood and reduce signs of anxiety and depression. Physical activity of any form increases endorphin (feel-good chemical released by the body) levels. This chemical gives a feeling of happiness and bliss.
It is very easy to fall prey and succumb to the vicious cycle of negative thoughts. But staying in bed won’t help! Go out for a run, sweat it out in the gym, or cool off in a pool and your body will thank you. Doctors suggest that even moderate levels of exercise throughout the week will be greatly helpful.
If you think that the panic attacks have become too frequent or anxiety is difficult to manage, we highly recommend seeking medical help. Talking to an expert will only make your journey smoother. With proper medicines and lifestyle changes, mental illness’ can be treated.
2. Builds Self-Sonfidence & Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem and self-confidence are the first signs of slipping into mental illness. When you don’t feel good about yourself, how can you give your best in anything else? Motivate yourself to workout and exercise and you’ll see what a big difference it’ll make in your life.
You can indulge in any form of exercise depending
upon your fitness needs. Whether you want to tone your muscles, reduce weight, increase stamina and endurance, or build core strength, there is an exercise for it. When your body starts sending you signs – a little inch loss, healthier looking skin, better stamina, you feel good about yourself and your self-esteem gets that much needed boost.
3. Lowers Stress
Lifestyle stress is a complimentary gift with our modern life. Be it job stress, traffic, or family tension, it all mounts to become a big ball of stress. To keep stress levels in check, doctors suggest to get some form of physical exercise. Do whatever you like – zumba, aerobics, yoga, brisk walk, or gym.
Here’s what research says, increasing your heart rate can reverse
Stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones. These neurohormones not just improve overall cognition and mood, but also help your mind stay balanced in stressful situations. Also when you exercise, the body’s central nervous system communicates with sympathetic nervous system and improves your body’s overall ability to fight stress.
4. Boosts Brainpower
Human brain is such a complex organ. You cannot decipher the superpowers of your brain. One of the easiest ways to boost brainpower is through exercise. Regular workout improves mental health and brainpower. Studies show that exercise enhances creativity and mental energy.
Various studies on mice and humans indicate that regular cardio exercise helps in generating new brain cells, improves brain performance, and helps with decision making.
5. Sharpens memory
Making exercise as a part of daily routine will boost memory and ability to learn new things. It also helps reduce cognitive decline and memory loss by sharpening the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. A recent study conducted concluded that running sprints improves vocabulary retention in adults. Hope this inspires you to go out and get moving.
6. Helps control addiction
Whenever you indulge in any form of pleasure – something as simple as delicious food, alcohol, drugs, or sex, the brain releases Dopamine. It is a kind of reward chemical which a response to pleasure. But unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and that’s how substance abuse starts (alcohol or drugs).
Exercise helps in addition recovery. Short exercise sessions prove to be a distraction for drug and alcohol addicts. Alcoholics say that they cannot fall asleep without consuming alcohol. But exercising helps to reset and reboot your body clock and helps you get back your sleep pattern.
7. Prevents Cognitive Decline
Cognitive decline is an ugly truth about life. As much as we want to avoid or delay it, but as we age brain functions is affected and is slowed. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help delay and prevent cognitive decline that usually begins after the age of 45.
Make sure you choose an exercise suitable for your body needs and weight. It will boost chemicals in brain that prevent degeneration of the hippocampus (the part of brain responsible for memory and learning).
8. Better Sleep
If you’re someone who cannot sleep properly, or are insomniac, then exercise is the best bet. Physical activity of any sort – be it running in the park, cardio, gym session or cycling, increases your body temperature and this has a soothing effect on your body. Regular exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, our bodies’ built-in alarm clock that controls when your body feels tired and alert.
Even though improved sleep is a psychological advantage of workout, experts recommend that you shouldn’t indulge in rigorous exercise close to bedtime.
Image Source – Message Magazine
Whether it is a good run or a swim, there is nothing more relaxing than burning that excess energy in something productive. Vent our your emotions in the badminton field, on the treadmill, or just lift weights and let go of all that stress on your shoulders.
A fulfilling workout session is so relaxing. You feel lighter, your mood is set, and you feel the power to conquer the negative thoughts.
How to get started?
While it is great to be inspired and be ready to hit the gym, but taking things slow is the best way out. If you haven’t exercised in a while and want to start again, here’s how to do it –
- Choose any form of exercise that you like or have liked in the past
- Get in touch with your doctor to know if the activity is suitable for your physical and mental health
- Start slow and gradually build up your activity level
It is best to make exercise as a part of your daily routine. You’ll always be caught up in something or the other. Find the best time to exercise depending upon your routine and then stick to it. Get active by doing simple things – take the stairs, walk to the market, go for a long walk with your pet, dance to your favorite songs.
How much exercise?
If you’re confused and are thinking how much exercise to get, here’s the answer. A research says that three or more sessions of aerobics or resistance training per week; 45 – 60 minutes per session can help control chronic depression. Continue with regular exercise as the effects will be visible in around four weeks.
10 Easy ways to take care of your mental health
Some other ways in which you can take care of your mental health include –
- Declutter your desk and your life.
- Let go of negative people.
- Find people who encourage you to bring out the best in you.
- Don’t compete with others.
- Stop comparing your life.
- Do more of what you love.
- Find time to revive a hobby that somehow got lost in the struggles of life.
- Take a break – go out with friends, solo trip, or just a heartfelt conversation with your parents.
- Connect with a support group online.
- Seek medical help if you think things are going out of hand.
Talking openly about mental health is no more a taboo. In fact, there have been so many campaigns where people from all walks of life have shared their experiences. If you’re suffering, know that you’re not alone. Taking that first step is the most difficult. Gather courage and fight it. Talk to someone you trust, seek medical help, and you’ll understand that no battle can be won without taking that one big step.