Exercise offers many physical benefits, which is probably the main reason most will start a program. However, the mental benefits can be just as great and, most of the time, we notice those mental benefits before reaching our physical goals.
From HELP GUIDE, there are many areas of mental well-being we can use exercise on before, and/or during, using medication.
EXERCISE AND DEPRESSION
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
EXERCISE AND 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.
EXERCISE AND STRESS
Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle (stress). 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 AND ADHD
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 AND PTSD AND TRAUMA
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.
There are a number of additional benefits according to Help Guide.
- Sharper memory and thinking
- Higher self-esteem
- Better Sleep
- More energy
- Stronger resilience
They go on to say a little bit of exercise is better than not and you don’t have to beat yourself up to reap the benefits.
Even with all the benefits, so many have obstacles to fitting it into a busy schedule.
- Exhausted? Studies show that regular exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase your energy levels
- Overwhelmed? If you begin thinking of physical activity as a priority (a necessity for your mental well-being), you’ll soon find ways to fit small amounts of exercise into even the busiest schedule.
- Feeling hopeless? Start slow with easy, low-impact activities a few minutes each day, such as walking or dancing.
- Have a lot of pain? Divide your exercise into shorter, more frequent chunks of time if that helps, or try exercising in water to reduce joint or muscle discomfort.
Ultimately, there is almost no reason not to do some sort of physical activity, especially when you look at all the ways it can help! You can also enlist the help of a trainer or Health Coach to give you direction.
Until next time…#eatthedamnsalad