Exercise has a multidimensional impact on human health. While everyone knows about the rewarding effects of exercise on physical health, its impact on mental health is not always highlighted. One thing people must understand is that poor mental health can lead to poor physical health and likewise, poor physical health can be a contributor to poor mental health. Thus, to lead a healthy and happy life, it is necessary to maintain both physical and mental health.
People who exercise regularly feel good about themselves as it brings a sense of well-being due to discharge of endorphins and serotonin, the chemicals that help uplift the mood. When the exercise sessions are conducted in groups, they can also help a person overcome loneliness and isolation.
Apart from helping manage sleep disorders, exercise helps boost mood, improve memory and treat many common mental health conditions, to a great extent. Regular exercise can help fight stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and also reduce symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
Studies have proved that people who are physically active show lower rates of depression compared to inactive people. “There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,” says James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Duke University.
Physical activity stimulates changes in brain chemicals, reduces inflammation, brings in a sense of relaxation and energizes the spirit with the release of endorphins and serotonin. Exercise helps ward off negative thoughts that most often trigger depression. As put by professor Blumenthal, “Exercise seems not only important for treating depression, but also in preventing relapse.”
According to many studies, there is a clear relationship between inactivity and development of anxiety disorders. Thus, exercise is considered as an anti-anxiety agent that helps dispel anxiety-related symptoms. As an agent of good health, exercise boosts energy and confidence and helps the body perform efficiently.
Exercise and ADHD
Exercise works similar to medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Just like Ritalin and Adderall, exercise also boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine count in the brain. By teaching children to make exercise an important part of life, one can help them diminish the symptoms of ADHD as it helps improve concentration, motivation and memory.
Physical activity, such as walking, running, dancing, swimming, hardcore outdoor activities like biking, hiking, climbing, whitewater rafting, skiing, etc. can play a significant role in managing PTSD. Exercise aids people ditch symptoms of PTSD by shifting their focus from the reminiscences of traumatic events to their physical health and helps come out of the pain and trauma.
Making exercise a part of lifestyle
A balanced lifestyle is a key to maintaining overall well-being. And sufficient amount of physical activity is an important element of such a lifestyle. If a job or the kind of lifestyle one is leading does not allow him or her to remain active, then exercise is the best solution.
Often people face difficulty in dealing with mental health problems. The first aid treatment for many mental health illnesses is exercise. However, a mental disorder is something that further requires professional assistance. If you are battling some mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. To learn about the best mental health programs in the United States, call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health experts for instant assistance.