The conversation around mental health is an important one, and as Mental Health Awareness month comes to an end, we wanted to add to the conversation regarding an important piece of the puzzle. There’s so much one can do to help improve their mental health – find a quality counselor, practice self-care, reduce stress, eat right, and also engage in physical activity. There is extensive research that indicates that exercising regularly is a primary contributing factor to improving emotional well-being and reducing rates of mental illness.
If you’re suffering from conditions such as depression or anxiety, regular exercise can help reduce and even alleviate symptoms in conjunction with your other treatment plans. Additionally, for those suffering from mild depression, research suggests physical activity may be as effective as an antidepressant.
**Note: Please do not change or stop taking medication without speaking with your doctor, this is not medical advice, and only an indication of potential benefits for some individuals.
You’ve probably heard people say they exercise because it makes them “feel good”. Usually, this refers to feeling good both physically and mentally. The reason for this is exercise can help to boost your mood, concentration, and alertness, and even change your outlook on life in a positive way. The reason for this is that a lack of activity is directly linked to both a cause and consequence of mental illness.
Exercise makes us feel better because it improves the levels of serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins. It can also make you sleep better, increases energy levels, enables you to cope better, have higher self-esteem, and have a stronger sense of control. Regular exercise is also a great way to distract your mind from negative thoughts, socialize with others in a positive way, work off frustrations, and reduce muscle tension. Additionally, accomplishing goals you set for yourself is another way exercising can boost your mental health.
If you aren’t already partaking in regular exercise, knowing where to start can be daunting. Conversely, if you do work out, you may be wondering how to tailor your workouts to benefit your mental health. The good news is, that this is not difficult to achieve, and starting or tweaking your exercise routine is more simple than you might think.
Research indicates that moderately intense exercise is enough to positively impact your mental health. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is ideal with the goal of adding 2.5-5 hours of moderate activity weekly or 1.5-2.5 hours of higher intensity activity weekly. Moderate activity includes workouts such as walking, swimming, pilates, or lightweight training, while higher intensity workouts can include jogging, cycling, team sports, or more intense weight training.
Your new exercise routine will have a better chance of success if you do the following:
If you’re still unsure of how to get started we have many blogs with basic workouts, strength training routines, and of course all the equipment you need to get a great workout!