How Are Exercising and Mental Health Linked?
People often ask, how much does exercising and mental health impact each other? Individually, both exercising and mental health have incredible benefits for our bodies. So, a lot of people start exercising for the physical aspect. However, after a while, they realise that they are experiencing many emotional benefits. Once you start, the benefits do not stop! So, why wait? Get up, get moving, grab those benefits and do it for YOU! Who says the new you has to start in the new year?
What is Exercising?
When we talk about the correlation between exercising and mental health, we talk about physical exercise. Physical exercise means sitting down less and moving our bodies more. However, you do not have to run a marathon to gain mental health benefits! Being physically active can be achieved in numerous ways, so set your goal as whatever you can do.
Examples of Exercising
As we said, exercising does not mean running a marathon. Exercising and mental health benefits are easier to receive than people would think. We have provided a list below to give you some ideas for exercise methods. This allows you to decide where you feel you are currently and build on your ability.
- Going for a short walk
- Walking your dog
- Light jog
- Going to the gym
- Partaking in a sport
- Riding a bike
Exercising and Mental Health Correlation
It is no secret that exercise helps with your physical health, but the mental aspects do not get the credit that they deserve. Regular exercise is proven to impact our well-being positively. Reports show that some of the benefits include:
- Improved quality of sleep
- Increased energy throughout the day
- Improve memory retention
- Feel more relaxed and positive about life
Exercising and Mental Health Disorders:
The benefits of exercising and mental health disorders are not limited. There are many different options to choose from when picking your exercise method. No matter your age or fitness ability, it is never too late to use exercise as your tool to battle mental health problems.
So, let us break down the benefits exercising has on different mental health disorders; as we know, no two are the same.
Exercise and Anxiety
Exercise is an effective anxiety reliever. It helps relieve stress and tension within the body and boost physical energy. In addition, the release of endorphins into your body creates a feel-good feeling, replacing stress.
Anxiety usually lets us overthink many situations and create outcomes that may not even happen. When exercising, connect with your body and focus on a sensation that keeps your mind busy.
For example, this focus could be on your breathing, the wind if you are outside or your heartbeat. By including this mindfulness element, you can learn how to interrupt the flow of worries that come into your mind.
Exercise and Stress
The next link between exercising and mental health is its effect on stress. Let me tell you, you are not the only one who gets those aches and pains in your neck, back and shoulders when you feel stressed. Other symptoms that you may feel are a tight chest, pounding heart or stomach irritation.
These symptoms are all common when experiencing stress. However, exercise can be effective in breaking this cycle. The body and mind are almost linked, so when one feels better, the other one does too.
Exercise and Depression
The connection between exercising and mental health continues to grow, and this correlation is no different. In addition, evidence shows that exercise can treat mild depression as effectively as anti-depressants. However, it does so without the side effects that anti-depressants cause, so it's a win-win.
How Often Do You Need to Exercise?
How much exercise do you need to do, I hear you ask? Let's rephrase to how little exercise you need to do. Harvard School of Public Health found that it is easier than people would think. For example, running for 15 minutes a day or walking around for an hour reduces the risks of severe depression by 26%.
This can be exploring in the fresh air or on a treadmill, whatever is most accessible and more enjoyable for you. Just get those legs moving and that heart pumping! The best part of that research is that it has more than one benefit. It relieves symptoms of depression, but studies also show that maintaining an exercise routine can prevent a relapse.
Additional Exercising and Mental Health Benefits
The exercising and mental health link aren't limited to those struggling with mental health problems. Anyone can feel the rewards of changing their lifestyle. In addition, introducing exercise to your life will help you feel better about yourself, which will start from the outside and soon help from the inside too.
Moreover, to reap the benefits, you don't need to devote hours of your day to exercise. Whilst we know exercising and mental health impact each other, we are not asking you to engage in crazy activities. So, you can relax knowing that you don't need to sweat buckets or go running for miles on end. It is as simple as 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
Bet you weren't expecting that were you?
Better yet, you can split these 30 minutes up however you like. For example, if two sessions of 15 minutes fit better with your schedule, the benefits you receive do not change.
Exercise Can Help Provide
This link between exercising and mental health is an investment in your body, mind and soul. Creating an exercise habit helps make you feel strong. In addition, physical changes in your appearance help develop a sense of achievement which makes you feel proud of yourself.
It can be as easy as short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon, as both help with better sleep. However, yoga can help promote sleep by relaxing the body and mind if you prefer to exercise at night.
Key Points to Take Away
The endless benefits of exercising and mental health are worth it but take it easy. Try not to rush the process. Here is our final input to take away.
- Not train every day
- Start small and then increase
- Do overexert yourself
- Give yourself time to recover
- Don't compare your day one to someone else's day one hundred
- Reward yourself for your efforts.
How does exercise affect your mental health?
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood.
How does lack of exercise affect mental health?
Lack of exercise can cause increased depression and frequent low mood.
What exercise is best for mental health?
Running, walking, boxing, and yoga are most effective.