It is understood globally that regular exercise is good for the body. But regular exercise is also good and effective way to improve your mental health. It can have a deep and positive impact on various mental disorders like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and many more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. It is not necessary to be a fitness fanatic to reap the effects of the exercise; with even a modest amount of exercise daily can make the difference.
Health and exercises: The mental health benefits of exercise
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.
People who tend to exercise regularly do it so because it provides them an extreme sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives.
Exercise for Depression
Can exercise help depression? Studies have shown that exercising can cure mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication, but without any side-effects. Besides relieving depression symptoms, the research has also shown that exercising can prevent you from relapsing.
Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, 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.
Exercise for Anxiety
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.
By exercising you may feel that it not only improves the physical condition faster, but it may also interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head. Thus, calming your nerves.
Exercise for Stress
Under stress it might be that you may experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. Thus it may lead to more stress due to the worry and discomfort, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body. Whenever you are under stress your body may may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps; your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches.
Exercising effectively breaks this vicious cycle; as well as releasing endorphins in the brain. Physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.
Exercise for ADHD
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a medical condition that affects how well someone can sit still, focus, and pay attention. People with ADHD have differences in the parts of their brains that control attention and activity. This means that they may have trouble focusing on some tasks and subjects.
Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Exercise for PTSD and trauma
Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events. Research has recently shown that PTSD among military personnel may be a physical brain injury, specifically of damaged tissue, caused by blasts during combat.
Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of thinking about other things, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.
Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
Mental health and exercise research: Other Mental and Emotional Benefits of Exercise
- Sharper Memory and Thinking. Exercising stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline. The same endorphins that would make you feel better, also help in concentrating and feeling mentally sharp for the tasks at hand.
- Higher Self-Esteem. When any exercising or regular activity becomes a habit, it would foster a sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. This would bolster your self-confidence, making you feel better about your appearance. By meeting even a small exercise goals it would make you feel a sense of achievement.
- Better Sleep. Even a short burst of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate the sleep patterns. If preferred to exercise at night, relaxing exercising such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.
- More Energy. Starting off with just a few minutes of exercising in a day, and increasing your workout will make you feel more energized. Increasing your heart rate will give you more energy.
- Stronger Resilience. Exercising can help you cope in a healthy way the mental or emotional challenges in life; instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that would make your symptoms still worse. Regularly exercising will also help in boosting the immune system and reduce the impact of stress.