How exercise can help your mental health

We all know that physical exercise is good for our bodies. What we might not know is just how good exercise is for our mental health and overall well-being. Now more than ever, it’s important that we focus on our physical health and understand the direct relationship it has to our mental health.

Regular exercise can help us cope with problems that are out of our control, and it can prevent us from resorting to negative behaviours such as abusing alcohol and drugs. A healthy diet along with regular exercise also helps in building our immune system. If you don’t use our bodies we become complacent; if we sit too long and or eat too much our “longevity genes” are shut off. We can turn them back on with hunger and exercise. If we want our bodies to be able to fight disease, we need to trick our bodies into thinking that we are under threat. How do we do that? Exercise.

Consistency is key: If you’re a gym person who’s currently working out from home, you could also be facing a loss of a sense of community and belonging to a group where your goals matter and are reached together. This is all the more reason to stick with your exercise regime. If you suffer from depression, anxiety and/or stress, the state of our world is not going to be an easy ride for you. Here are some of the reasons why sticking with your regular exercise regime can help your state of mind.

Depression fighter

Exercise promotes feelings of calmness and overall well-being. It promotes changes in the brain such as decreased inflammation and neural growth. It also releases endorphins: chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Simply put, exercise can be a perfect distraction from negative thoughts that feed depression.

Anti-anxiety treatment

As mentioned above, through the release of endorphins, exercise helps to relieve tension and stress. If you focus on your body and its movement patterns and really zone in to how you feel while exercising, it can help you to also zone in on your mental well-being. This can allow you to clear your mind of constant worries.

Stress buster

If you are still unsure how closely the mind and body are linked, think about what happens to your body when you are stressed. Tension headaches, stomach issues such as cramping and heartburn, and chronic insomnia are just some of the physical side effects of mental stress. When we exercise, we circulate oxygen, improve our blood pressure, and lubricate our joints. The effects of releasing endorphins will also release physical tension, acting as a stress buster.

Exercise also improves concentration, memory and mood. Better sleep, more energy, sharper memory and higher self esteem are all direct effects of physical exercise. In general, exercise will help us to have a stronger physical and mental resilience.

Giving yourself 30 minutes a day to exercise is all you need to reap the rewards of enhancing your overall mental health and well-being. Anything between and including walking to weight lifting will do. The goal is to stay active and strengthen your immune system. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! #leadbyexample

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.

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