Why Counselors Use Exercise As Mental Health Treatment

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Regular exercise has many benefits to our body. It can help decrease your risk for heart diseases, diabetes, and other health problems. But did you know that exercise can also affect your brain?

Many studies have proved the role of exercise in reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. Exercise can also ease symptoms of social withdrawal and low self-esteem.

Read on if you want to learn more about the connection of physical activity to your mental health. Who knows? This might be the sign you’ve been waiting for to start being physically active!

How Does Physical Activity Improve Mental Health?

There are many possible causes of depression. While we cannot always identify the exact cause, many different factors come into play. Stress, for one, may lead to depression. But fortunately, exercise can play a role in stress management!

An active lifestyle has a lot of benefits to your mental health. We listed down some of the reasons why you should get up and start moving.

  1. Exercise Boosts Your Endorphins

Endorphins are also called the feel-good neurotransmitters of the brain. It puts you in a good mood and increases your sense of well-being.

Runner’s High

But it’s not just endorphins that your body releases when you exercise. If you’ve ever had a euphoric feeling after a run, then you might have experienced what we call a “runner’s high.” For years, we have credited endorphin for this comfortable post-run feeling. However, chemical substances called endocannabinoids naturally produced in the body are the more likely the heroes of “runner’s high.” 

Still, endorphins play a role in preventing your muscles from aching. More studies have yet to back this up, but we surely know that we have often felt euphoric after a good exercise session!

  1. Exercise Improves Your Sleep

Depression is deeply connected to sleep. Among the many symptoms of depression are sleeping problems like insomnia. Signs of depression in teens also include sleeping too much.

But did you know that exercise can work as effectively as prescription sleep medications? Stress and anxiety can keep you awake for hours and make you lose sleep. But since physical activity has already improved your mood (thanks to endorphins and endocannabinoids), you’re more likely to sleep more easily at night!

Additionally, since exercise is tiring, it makes you feel sleepy. However, you have to note that exercising to the point of exhaustion is also not good. Taking short walks or doing your daily chores can improve your sleep.

  1. Exercise Increases Your Confidence

Taking your physical activity sincerely means you tend to set goals and plan your schedule. Some people take part in challenges, too. When you meet these goals, you feel a sense of accomplishment, thus improving your self-confidence.

Some people set goals for getting into their desired shape. They feel better about their appearance once they reach this goal.

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Why Is Working Closely With A Counselor Or Therapist Important?

Anyone can develop exercise routines on their own. You can take a walk in the park, bike to work, play basketball, or even do your daily chores, and they already count as exercise. But if you’re seeing a counselor or therapist, you have to discuss your routines with them. You have to let them help you primarily if you have other health problems or haven’t been exercising for a long time. They can tailor a routine according to your preference and toleration. 

Best Physical Activities For Your Mental Health

Many studies suggest that aerobic exercises are beneficial to people with depression. These include:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Ensure to get your doctor’s approval regarding your routine. Take into account their suggestions, as some health problems might prevent you from certain aerobic activities. Take arthritis, for example. Typical aerobic exercises may be too hard on your joints and even worsen your condition. A professional may suggest aquatic exercises instead. They ensure that your routine does not interfere with your overall treatment plan.

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How Much Exercise Do You Need?

While lack of movement is not good, too much physical activity can also be harmful to you. This can even result in injury! Be patient and work gradually.

Most healthy adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (walking, swimming) weekly. Meanwhile, you can have 75 minutes of high-impact aerobic exercises (running, biking). 

Do not set unrealistic goals. Instead, aim for activities you enjoy doing, with the approval of your doctor, of course!

It’s Time To Get Moving!

Take a step to a healthier body and mind! Consult your counselor or therapist now and work with them in developing an exercise routine fit for you.

Physical activity can improve mental health. However, this alone is not enough treatment for depression or anxiety. Exercise is a beneficial addition to other therapies and medication that your doctor prescribed.

What Is Fitness Counseling And How Does It Help You Achieve Wellness

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Today, being fit and keeping up with the current health trends has been a huge priority for many. Because of the pandemic, many are motivated to achieve their fitness goals even in the confines of their home. But because of quarantine rules, it isn’t as easy to maintain and adhere to these choices as before.

The good thing is that fitness counselors help you achieve physical and mental triumphs despite the situation.

Are you interested in one? Here are the basics of the Sports and Fitness Psychology you need before participating in fitness counseling.

What Is Fitness Counseling

Fitness counseling, also known as fitness therapy or psychology, is an approach in psychology that combines sports science and psychology to help clients achieve their personal wellness goals.

Its primary function is to help athletes and coaches plan, strategize, and improve their performance during their games. It can also help fitness-enthusiastic individuals learn how to become their best selves when engaging in physical activities.

In addition, Sports Psychology researchers try to understand the connection between psychological factors and performance in physical activities. Conversely, they also check if engaging in such activities benefits an individual’s psychological state in the long run.

Focus And Scope Of Fitness Counseling

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Fitness counseling offers an array of solutions to the usual fitness struggles and exercise needs.

One of the primary goals of this form of therapy is to help individuals reach their highest potential and peak performance. This involves offering counsel to athletes or other individuals and their parents, coaches, and team staff.

Fitness counseling helps manage mental and psychological problems that may interfere with the fitness process. It provides solutions to manage stress and anxiety. It can also make you positive even when facing drawbacks in your fitness goals. This form of therapy can also help build leadership traits in team sports, training endurance or determination, and promoting cooperation within athletes.

Counselors in this field can help athletes and individuals who face long-term physical injuries overcome their difficulties and find hope in their recovery. Being stranded or immobile due to persisting injuries can be harsh for their mental health, so it is the job of psychologists to guide them moving forward.

Counselors can also guide athletes and sport-inclined individuals who are losing interest in their chosen sports and activities. Professionals can help them maintain and adhere to their usual health routines and make them feel more enjoyment while practicing their exercise programs.

Famous Techniques And Strategies

Along with the scope of this counseling type, there are also an array of techniques fitness counselors use when attending to their client’s various needs.

They primarily start with educating their clients about the different methods to shape their performance to the next level. This may include discussions on motivation and grit, increased focus during games, and improved overall performance.

Counselors can help clients perform a technique called Self-talk. This technique requires a client to repeat positive words and thoughts in his head. This promotes an increase in his attention towards a specific goal or objective.

Motor Imagery is also a usual tool in sports and fitness psychology. A visual and mental rehearsal of what an event or sensation will be like, in reality, can stimulate different senses.

Pre-performance Routines can be for both athletes and sports-inclined individuals. These are physical and mental actions they do before their event. Pre-performance routines give clients a sense of consistent performance, controlled actions, and predictability.

The most basic and familiar technique here is Goal Setting. Counselors and psychologists help clients list, determine, and differentiate their short-term and long-term goals and plans. Together with athletes, they check how measurable and attainable the goals are over the course of therapy.

Finally, Regulating Arousal is a good strategy for individuals. It improves a person’s performance by regulating their physical or mental activity. You can visualize winning sports events, discuss positive self-talk, or listen to empowering music or songs. You can also perform gentle and relaxing muscle techniques, slow breathing exercises, and meditation.

How To Find The Best Counselor

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) regulates standards for professionals in sport psychology. They are also the ones who provide certifications to qualified individuals.

In finding the best fitness counselor, make sure that they are licensed and recognized by the AASP. You can also look into their credentials if you find them fit for your choices and preferences.

Because you might need multiple counseling sessions, make sure to hire a counselor with whom you feel more comfortable. This is key to becoming more open in the long run.

Be well aware of your counselor’s manners when working with you. Check how professional their care is for you and if it pushes you to become your best self. Pay attention to how effective their approaches are for you and your current mental and physical capacities.

Conclusion

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Whether you are a professional athlete, a student-athlete, or an exercise enthusiast, engaging in Sports and Fitness Counseling or Therapy can be beneficial in improving your performance which is eventual in achieving your major goals in life.

Physical engagement and having good coaches can help you succeed with your sports and athletic career. Therapy can help you manage your mood, increase focus, and learn how to motivate yourself in the future. It can also promote retention and help you adhere to your goals despite setbacks and hurdles that may come your way.