Did you know that your mental, physical, and emotional health are all intertwined? This means that they affect one another. Your emotional and physical health impact your mental health and vice versa. With this in mind, regular exercise can only help you and your mental health stability.
Some people may not be used to exercising. You may even feel unsure of where to start. But don’t worry; you’re not alone! Exercise doesn’t always have to mean an intense or rigorous sweat-fest. Sometimes simple light stretching or running for ten minutes on a treadmill a few times per week are just what your body needs to get started. At any level, exercise is beneficial. The key is to take the first step. This can be tough to do, however, if you’re struggling with your mental health.
How Does Exercise Affect Your Mental Health?
It’s common knowledge that exercise improves long-term physical health. Moreover, there is plenty of data measuring how exercise lowers your risk of major health issues such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
But data on the mental health benefits are more difficult to measure than physical benefits. One study in the US, for example, was clear that mental health and exercise had a strong correlation. At the same time, it also surmised that more isn’t always better. How and why a person exercises cannot be reduced to a simple prescription—every person is different.
But no matter who you are or what you’re struggling with, you can be sure that any type of physical exercise will start to benefit your mental health. It may start out small but these incremental changes make the difference over time. The benefits listed below should help motivate you to take the leap in taking care of your whole being.
Less Stress is Best
According to a study in the journal of Mental Health & Prevention, exercise had a significant impact on stress-reduction and overall wellbeing. Moreover, the amount of exercise doesn’t necessarily make it more beneficial. You can take heart in just trying to stay consistent, even if you aren’t able to squeeze your full thirty minutes or hour in. In order to reap the benefit of stress reduction, don’t stress yourself out over the amount of time!
Less chronic stress will positively improve the quality of your life overall, including your mental health. Regular physical activity can also strengthen your relationships, brain health, and your capacity to address challenging situations. All of these facets of life impact your ability to succeed in the world and feel confident in yourself.
Minimizes Risk of Other Health Issues
How you’re feeling physically most certainly the quality of your mental health. If you’re constantly concerned with your ability to function, provide for yourself or your family, it can be hard to stay mentally healthy. Under such conditions, it’s easy to develop mental health issues like depression or anxiety. But by keeping your body healthy with exercise can reduce the chances of other physical health problems creeping in.
Heart health, diabetes prevention, and improved circulation all make a significant difference in your day to day health. Of course, no one can predict a perfectly healthy body. But each of us can do what we can, and that is worth it in the long run. Many chronic health issues can be avoided with a nutritional eating and regular exercise.
Among the numerous mental health benefits exercise includes improved neurological health. When you move your body, you release endorphins in your brain and body. It’s true that these endorphins make you feel better physically, but they also have neurological benefits. In addition to helping your develop new skills, endorphins also help your brain grow new cells. Over time, continued brain cell growth can help you age more gracefully and in better quality.
Improved Sleep Quality
There are many ways to improve your sleep quality. But there are few as effective as physical exercise. For one, regular exercise increases the physical temperature of your body and improves circulation. These factors help your brain to wind down easier at night and let your body relax more quickly.
Furthermore, the quality sleep that exercise can give helps establish a better circadian rhythm. Each person’s circadian heart rhythm tells them when they feel sleepy or awake. In other words, it’s your internal biological clock. Exercise can help train this rhythm, which in turn can improve your mental health overall.
Fosters Friendship and Connection
While many people choose to exercise alone, many prefer a workout partner or to be in a group class. There are a number of ways to get your physical exercise with other people. You can join weekly workout classes, join a gym, or attend yoga classes. All these can help you connect with other people who have similar interests.
Oftentimes, these can turn into positive relationships that help you see the world better. With a similar life perspective, your friends should help to improve the quality of your mental health and how you view the world.
Getting to know yourself better and what you like is a big part of an exercise routine. What makes sense for you, your personality, and your lifestyle? Remember, not all forms of exercise are the same. You may prefer light exercise or aerobic exercise that emphasizes cardio. Others find intensive exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) more appealing. No type of exercise is innately “better” than the other. Whatever you choose, focus on consistency.
In the long run, exercising can help you learn more about yourself and your interests.
All this can help you gain a stronger sense of self-awareness, happiness, and confidence. Don’t these sound like qualities of good mental health?
If you have questions about mental health counseling and therapy options available to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional at Aspen Counseling Services today.