How Staying Active Can Help Mental Health
Jan 19, 2022
Working out is one of the first recommendations you’re likely to hear if you announce an intention to improve your physical health. When discussing mental health, though, it’s less likely to come up. It may come as a surprise, then, that staying active can be just as beneficial for mental health as it is for physical health. It’s so potent that Harvard Medical School has called exercise an “all-natural treatment” for fighting the symptoms of depression. This is largely due to the release of endorphins that are triggered in the body during exercise. Endorphins generate a positive feeling — and low endorphins have been identified as one of the causes of depression. Read on to learn how to harness the power of physical activities for mental health.
Enjoy the Physical Benefits
Of course, in addition to its mental health benefits, exercise offers many benefits to physical health, too, that can make it a rewarding experience. While you enjoy the improvements in your mental health that regular exercise can bring, don’t overlook these physical benefits. Regular exercise is often cited as one of the keys to longevity due to the following facts.
Lengthen Your Lifespan
Yes, it’s true — exercise is one of the best investments in your physical health and overall longevity! According to a study covered by Harvard Medical School, regular exercise is associated with a longer lifespan. The study collected data from a cardiorespiratory fitness test and found a correlation between fitness and living longer. This can be attributed to many factors, but perhaps the greatest contributor is the better supply of blood and oxygen that is pumped to the heart and lungs when a person exercises regularly.
Reduce Risk of Heart Attack
A better supply of blood isn’t the only heart health benefit that exercise can provide. Improved cardiovascular health is one of the foremost benefits of exercise. Studies prove that 150 minutes of exercise each week can massively reduce a person’s risk of hypertension, heart disease, and heart attack. According to the Center for Disease Control, poor cardiovascular health can lead to a range of mental health conditions, so prevention of cardiovascular issues also serves as prevention of mental health issues.
Enjoy an Energy Boost
It’s no secret that exercise can provide an energy boost, and anybody who’s experienced depression or anxiety will tell you that a low energy level is one of the primary symptoms. Engaging in physical activities for mental health is one of the best ways to combat low energy levels and enjoy an overall boost.
Turn It Into a Social Activity
Exercising offers a range of benefits to your physical and mental health, even if you’re enjoying solo workouts. You can multiply these benefits, though, by turning fitness into a social activity. Socialization is great for your mental health, and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy physical fitness in a social setting.
Enlist Friends to Join You
One of the easiest ways to enjoy some social exercise is to enlist friends to join you. Chances are, you have a friend who’s been wanting to join a gym but is nervous about doing so alone. Buddy up with somebody and embark on your fitness journey with a partner. This can help you stay accountable, turn exercise into a habit, and enjoy the added benefit of social interaction.
Join a Class and Make New Friends
If you don’t have any friends who would be interested in a joint exercise venture, that’s okay — there are plenty of classes available where you can join a group and make new friends while working on your fitness! Check with your local community center or gym to learn about their class schedules, and choose a fitness class that interests you.
Psychology indicates that healthy competition is good for your mental health. It’s no wonder why so many fitness activities are turned into competitive sports. If you want to enjoy the combined benefits of exercise, social engagement, and competition, getting involved in an amateur competitive sport can be the best of all worlds.
Boost Your Self-Confidence
The correlation between mental health and self-confidence is well-established. A boost to one tends to benefit the other, which is certainly the case when it comes to physical activities for mental health. Indeed, exercise is one of the best mental health activities you can engage in.
Get In Shape
Most people feel better about themselves when they are in good shape. Each person’s definition of “good shape” may vary, but generally, when you feel physically fit and able, you’re likely to experience a boost in your self-confidence. Exercise is a great way to accomplish this because it allows you to get in shape gradually while experiencing many other benefits, too!
Building your overall strength is another benefit of exercise that can improve your self-esteem. Regular exercise is the key to stronger bones and muscles, and building one’s physical strength can lead to an improved sense of self-confidence. As you build your strength, you’re also increasing your stamina, which will help you continue to ramp up your fitness routine over time.
Many people struggle with self-confidence issues that stem from struggles with their weight. In turn, struggles with weight are likely to cause many different mental health issues. Establishing a fitness routine for yourself is essential to address this and take matters into your own hands. As you get into the habit of regular exercise, you may see weight loss as one of the benefits of improving your self-confidence and mental health.
Improve Yourself With Help From a Therapist
Many mental health activities can help combat the symptoms of mental health issues, but few are as effective as exercise. You can sometimes benefit from additional treatment options such as therapy. MHS serves clients throughout the Apple Valley, MN area who seek support and guidance on their mental health journey. We offer dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and other treatment options. For more information, call us at (952) 835-2002 or learn more about us online.
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