Exercise & Mental Health

In the ever-changing, fast-paced world we live in today it seems that finding time to exercise has become a chore.  All too often we fall into the mindset of “I don’t have time” attitude.  Then, we find ourselves stressed out, needing some relief, and not sleeping well, until things compound into various health issues, including mental health.  For the sake of this post, we will focus on that.

First, exercise has been shown to greatly benefit mental health in numerous ways.  From reducing stress and anxiety, to helping improve sleep, you can’t go wrong!  Exercise has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression, increase cognitive function (important as we age), increase self-esteem, boost your mood, and help improve other health markers (insulin, and more).  Those who exercise regularly generally will have reduced risk of mental illness developing or reduce symptoms of certain conditions.

Check out brain doctor, Dr. Amen, on exercise and depression here.

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We need to move and were made to move. But our world is changing so that many of us don’t move nearly enough day to day. Find a way you can do more with yourself daily, no matter your capabilities, and take care of your body in a positive way that works for you.

Now, you don’t need to just jump in and spend 3 hours a day training like an athlete.  You can start simple, and most advisedly, with something enjoyable.  Dancing, walking, yoga, weights, and so much more are out there.  Once you start an exercise habit, it is easier to keep going and start enjoying the boost it gives your mood among other things.  Infact, you may start craving the movement and the positive vibes you get, and expand your horizons into more forms of exercise, programs, and regimens.  Don’t compare yourself and what you are doing to anyone else. You are you and taking care of you.

I started walking a daily mile (minimum) with my kids outside my normal routine.  Partially, because we needed to get out of the house, and because they needed it for cross training/fitness for school and Scouts.  It quickly became something we just enjoy doing, so we have continued and try to make time daily for it.  Nowadays, I workout 5-6 days a week for 30-60 minutes depending on the day and plan, ON TOP OF my walk.  I am always in a better state of mind, and clearer in the head, after exercise.

Walking is so underrated and energizing!  If for some reason you cannot walk, find something you are able to do and enjoy to start just moving your body more for your mind. 

Mental boost enhancements that may help:
*Walk daily.
*Put on some music and dance/sing it out.
*Stretch/Meditate/Yoga/weights/swim.
*Drink water.
*Turn off Social Media after 3pm.
*Play games – especially if you have kids (sports or board games)

We all need to exercise more per the doctors, but we don’t always do it.  I encourage you for your health overall to start with something positive exercise wise both for your physical health and your mental health.  If you are struggling mentally, first and foremost, don’t hesitate to seek help and support.  You are not alone, and you matter.  Call a friend and chat, talk to your doctor, get some exercise, drink more water, get a accountability partner, seek out a health coach for support, and seek other positive healthy ways to support yourself.


Some other articles:
Mayo Clinic:

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

NIH:

Role of Physical Activity on Mental Health and Well-Being

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