Did you know that in addition to improving your physical health, exercise has positive effects on your emotional well-being? In addition, physical activity has been shown to help with mental health, and it is increasingly being employed as a therapeutic method for dealing with mental health issues.
Many folks go to the gym or run errands to improve their cardiovascular health, bulk up, and have a rockin’ body. Getting in shape can help you in numerous ways, from maintaining your health to reducing weight. But physical activity also has positive effects on your mental and emotional well-being. Exercise is a powerful medicine. So let’s discuss ways physical activity can benefit mental health.
Helps manage addiction
It indicates that exercise has considerable untapped potential as an adjunct treatment for addictions. Moreover, its positive effects on mood and withdrawal symptoms can aid addicts in their quest for sobriety and overall health. One of the major recovery steps is getting through those difficult withdrawal symptoms varying from depression, despair, anxiety, excessive sweating, and even headaches.
Exercising has been shown to alleviate these mental health issues, so experts believe that exercise can also ease these substance withdrawal symptoms. But exercise alone can’t help you manage your addiction or recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse, reach out to a professional rehabilitation center like Serenity at Summit. You can check out all the details about their treatment program here: serenityatsummit.com
Elevates Self Worth
A dip in self-worth and self-esteem is witnessed in individuals who do not exercise. Getting enough exercise involves:
- Creating a workout routine
- Sticking to that routine
- Adding to the routine where necessary to see positive changes in your body
Observing changes in your body, such as building muscle or losing weight, produces feelings of achievement and an elevated sense of self-worth. Furthermore, the willpower and resilience to stick to a routine until they see the result will make individuals believe they can achieve anything they put their minds and focus on. When it comes to those suffering from mental health issues, they may have other factors contributing to their low self-worth.
Ample exercise is even more beneficial for them than the average person to curb this problem. With the physical and mental positive changes that follow their workouts, they will feel more confident in their body and mind.
Aids in Recovery from Mental Illnesses
When discussing mental health issues, exercise has been linked to a profoundly positive impact on several mental health disorders. According to research, for people with mild to moderate depression, exercise works as well as antidepressants without the added side effects.
For anxiety, exercise is a natural and effective treatment that helps you channel your stress and worries into your workout and distract yourself from intrusive thoughts. Where stress exists in itself, physical activity can be an excellent outlet for releasing built-up tension in the muscles and strain on the mind by allowing you to stretch, move and breathe.
Those with ADHD are aware of the constant need for adrenaline from external sources to make up for the lack of dopamine released by the brain. One highly effective external source is exercise, which is known to improve motivation and concentration.
For individuals with PTSD, engaging in productive activities to prevent stagnation and staying trapped in the past cannot be emphasized enough. This stagnation can be converted into forward movement and progress of the mind by the regular movement of the body. Therefore, an exercise involving movement of all limbs, such as swimming, jogging, aerobics, or climbing, shall yield the best recovery results for PTSD patients.
It Soothes the Mind
With busy routines, hectic schedules, and piled-up tasks to complete, exercise is just the escape everyone needs in their life. To put your brain on pause, achieve mental clarity, and let go of all burdens, a jog, walk, swim, or hour in the gym is all you need. When you’re in the middle of physical activity, you’re fully present in the now. Your entire focus is on your movement, breathing, and controlling your body, which works wonders for mental health.
Allowing your mind to catch a break, reset, and rewire with emphasis on breathing and body movement creates a sense of well-being. Furthermore, practices involving spiritual and physical elements, such as yoga and tai chi, contribute to physical and emotional well-being while being more gentle on the body and mind compared to vigorous workouts.
For example, a study in the BMC Complement Altern Med reported that regular Tai Chi significantly increased psychological well-being, including reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and enhanced mood. It proves how these practices are highly beneficial ways of incorporating physical movement, meditation, and Lamaze Breathing into one single form of activity that provides multiple benefits.
A good night’s slumber is associated with greater productivity and a fresh mind in the morning. That’s because, during our sleep, our body repairs cells, restores energy, and produces hormones released by the mind later in the day. In addition, our mind stores new information while nerve cells communicate and organize, which supports healthy brain function. These vital processes, which occur during sleep, ultimately lead to greater well-being.
In terms of mental health, getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep is essential for healthy brain function and decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep is also the best mitigator of stress.
So how does one promote better sleep in their routine? The answer is exercise! When you exercise, your body exerts energy through movement, which leads to tiredness, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and for a longer time. Furthermore, soothing exercises such as yoga and tai chi have been linked to peaceful and sound sleep as they relax the mind enough to fall asleep quickly. The hours of good quality sleep that exercise adds to your daily routine enable you to have a stable and clear mind for the rest of your day.
Helps You Socialize
The real fun in exercise comes from the fact that it is a communal activity, better enjoyed in the company of others. Often, people hit the gym with their gym buddy, have their morning walk with their neighbor, or go swimming in a public pool with their friends.
This constant exposure to people accompanying physical activity is a wonderful way of building meaningful connections with people based on mutual interests. These connections can even turn into lifelong friendships or romantic relationships.
Moreover, a study published in Psychology and Aging (led by Dr. Denis Gerstorf, of Humboldt University in Berlin) found that greater happiness and fewer precipitous falls in old age are connected with engaging in social activities and placing a high value on social goals. When people socialize, face-to-face interaction causes neurotransmitters to release “happy chemicals” that uplift mood and helps them have a positive outlook on life.
In addition, socializing helps boost confidence, provide a sense of belonging, and create opportunities for more fun and excitement.
Conclusion: Physical Activity Can Benefit your Mental Health
A healthy body means a healthy mind. Physical activity is not just a good addition to your daily routine for getting your summer body or meeting your weight goals. It is also a highly beneficial way of looking out for your mind and catering to its needs. Paying attention to the above-mentioned ways physical activity benefits our mental health, we should all make conscious efforts towards incorporating the same into our lives for a healthier future!