Mental Health

Help Your Mental Health with Exercise

help your mental health with exercise

Struggling with mental health? You don’t need to suffer in silence. Believe it or not, breaking a sweat can make a world of difference – let’s get moving and start feeling better!

Exercise helps prevent and improve many health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. In addition, research on depression, anxiety, and exercise shows that exercise’s psychological and physical benefits can also reduce the symptoms of many mental health struggles, including depression and anxiety.

The relationship between mental health and exercise isn’t fully understood. Still, numerous studies have shown that working out and doing other physical activities can reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety, enhance your mood, and make you feel great.

Plus, maintaining an active lifestyle may even reduce the risk of depression and anxiety coming back.

How Does Exercise Help Mental Health?

Regular exercise may help ease mental health struggles by:

  • Releasing endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids), and other naturally produced brain chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being
  • Redirecting your mind so you can break the cycle of negative thoughts that increase depression and anxiety

Ready to feel better mentally and emotionally? Start exercising regularly and reap these fantastic benefits:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting your personal exercise goals or challenges can boost your self-confidence. Additionally, getting in shape can make you feel better about your physical appearance.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity allow you to meet and socialize with others. People are often drawn to others with similar goals and will want to interact. However, receiving a smile or other greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help improve your mood.
  • Cope healthily. Doing something positive to manage your mental health is a healthy coping strategy. Self-improvement will provide better results than ignoring the problem or turning to substances.

Does it Have to be an Exercise Program?

Research shows that regular physical activity such as walking — not just exercise programs — helps improve mental health. Of course, physical activity and exercise are not the same, but both benefit your health.

  • Physical activity is any activity that uses your muscles and requires energy, including work, household chores, or simply leisure activities.
  • Exercise, on the other hand, is a planned, structured, and repetitive body movement done to maintain or improve physical fitness.

Exercise isn’t just about running laps in the gym — it’s about finding the activities that help you feel your best! From playing with your kids to cycling, try to discover which activities can help you increase your activity level and be the healthiest, happiest version of yourself.

Yes, physical activity can do wonders for your mood, but it doesn’t have to be intense stuff like running, lifting weights, or playing basketball. Just get outside and start moving! Gardening, washing your car, or walking around the block – any physical activity that gets you off the couch and active can help boost your mood.

Revamp your physical activity by breaking it up throughout your day! Rather than doing all your exercise at once, add small moments of physical activity to your daily routine. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park farther away to get a brisk walk in. If you’re close to your job, why not find a way to bike to work? Make fitness a part of your daily routine, and you’ll reap the benefits in no time!

How Much Exercise do I Need to Improve Mental Health?

Get moving – even just 10-15 minutes a day – and you might be surprised how much it can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety or depression. Of course, doing 30+ minutes of exercise three to five days a week can be even more beneficial. And if you’re looking for a quicker lift-me-up, try a more vigorous activity like running or cycling!

Here’s a great motivation to stay physically active: the mental health benefits you gain from exercise will be lasting – but only if you stick with it in the long run! So make sure to find activities that you genuinely enjoy.

How to Get Started and Stay Motivated?

Struggling to get motivated? Check out these simple tips to help you get started and stick with a regular routine:

  • Ask yourself what activities you genuinely enjoy. Are you more likely to pick up a shovel and work in the garden in the evening, go for a morning jog, try biking, or join your kids for a basketball game after school? Remember, if you do what you love, you’ll stay motivated and have more fun!
  • Get the support of a mental health professional. Chat with your doctor or mental health professional for guidance and support. Explore how an exercise program or physical activity routine can be incorporated into your treatment plan.
  • Set achievable goals. Don’t feel you need to take on a huge task immediately. Start small and tailor your physical activity routine to your individual needs and abilities. Make sure your goals are realistic and within reach, and you’ll be closer to successfully reaching them!
  • Change your perspective. Don’t think of exercise and physical activity as a chore – it’s a tool to help you get better! Just like your therapy sessions or medication, make it part of your routine, and you’ll feel better. Don’t associate it with failure – think of it as an opportunity to reach your goals!
  • Analyze your barriers. Take some time to analyze what’s stopping you from being physically active or exercising. If you feel self-conscious, consider exercising at home. If you want support, find a friend who enjoys the same activities or has the same goals that you do. If you can’t spend money on exercise gear, do something free, such as regular walking. You can find an alternative solution if you think about what’s stopping you from being physically active or exercising.
  • Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. You won’t be 100% every day. But give yourself credit for every small step in the right direction. If you miss one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain an exercise routine and might as well quit. Just try again the next day.

You may also like The 12 Main Health Benefits of Exercise (Plus More Than You’ll Ever Want to Know)

Help Your Mental Health with Exercise

Although it probably won’t solve your mental health struggles, exercise will make them more manageable.

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In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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