Exercise and Mental Health Connection 

Friday July 23, 2021

Exercise and Mental Health Connection 

Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for the body. But exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits.  

Maintaining an exercise schedule can help promote all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote calm and well-being.  It releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. Emotional benefits such as increased confidence, social interaction, and helping the body cope in a healthy way are also benefits exercise provides.  

Exercising regularly is an alternative treatment method and does not require a prescription or doctor/therapy visit. Exercise can help reduce the symptoms and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Exercise does not have to be a structured regular activity it can also take the form of physical activity such as gardening or playing ball with your children. The American Psychological Association states “The effects of physical activity extends beyond the short-term. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression.”  

Finding an exercise that fits into your routine and that you enjoy is important.

Some examples might include

  • lap swimming in a pool
  • 30 minutes brisk walking, 3-4x per week.
  • joining a low intensity cycling class at your local recreation center
  • find an online app (i.e. Nike) for a variety of classes that offer stretching, strengthening, and more for your level of fitness.

Our bodies tend to hold stress and trauma. Focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise can help your nervous system begin to move out of the stress response that characterizes mental health issues. Exercises involving movement from both sides of our body in addition to across the body, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing, are some of your best choices. Setting yourself extravagant goals during emotionally trying times will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. Set achievable goals and build from there. 

Finding ways to exercise or have activity outdoors with fresh air and good weather will even further benefit your mood. This article from the Mayo Clinic talks more in-depth on exercise and decreasing symptoms.  Need advice for workouts or exercises you can do at home? Call Sisu Therapies for an appointment today at 970.561.7111.