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.
- 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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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.
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.