THE LINK BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

It is well known, the good effects that physical activities have on mental health. In fact, by nature humans had evolved to adapt and overcome physical challenges. In contrast, nowadays one of the main causes of the deterioration of our cardiovascular system is a sedentary lifestyle. Because of that the world’s first threat for modern humans is heart disease. Besides preventing cardiovascular problems, physical activities are useful to attract and prevent non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Furthermore, there is a pile of evidence about how having an active lifestyle is beneficial for our brain and cognitive abilities.

It is known how school children have better academic results if they allow the time for a fitness lifestyle (Spark : The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain). Besides, there is proof of how regular physical activities in the mid-age populations can reduce the risk of dementia. In fact, exercises is a well-known treatment for type 2 diabetes which is also related to Alzheimer´s disease and the decrements of brain functions.

Haven, not you feel that satisfaction and plenitude after a jogging session? And these feelings are even more prominent those days when you feel down and stressed. The reason behind that is the impact of physical activities on your mental health. There is a stunning amount of evidence that supports this statement. And because of that many scientists are starting to believe that exercise should be used as a tool by psychologists in their treatments.

A healthy mind healthy body

Symptoms of depression and anxiety can be controlled by acquiring the habit of regularly doing physical activities this is something known for years. Furthermore, any type of exercise but especially the one that we particularly enjoy the most, certainly make us feel better almost immediately. And by helping us with our mood it also eases the particular symptoms of anxiety and depression. Actually, experimental studies confirm that the effect of physical activities is closely related to the effect of antidepressants in the body.

Besides if you keep exercising, in the long run, it can help to prevent anxiety and depression from reappearing in your life. In the expert’s opinions that have worked with a patient that presented major depressive disorders. They demonstrated how important it is to regularly exercise for treating depression but not only that; after one year of regular physical activities, the patient showed a level of depression lower than those less active patients. Many of them conclude that an active background can set the pace in the brain on how to respond to future stressful situations such as feeling as “failure” or “social defeat.” Specialist in psychology and anxiety treatments also advocate that regular exercise can also help to prevent panic attacks on sensitive patients.

How should you exercise?

 There are two main types of exercises and both aerobic and strength are equally good for treating the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is not a brainer running, jumping, playing a sport or lifting weights is going to have a positive effect in your life. However, simple activities like walking around your neighborhood, washing your car and cleaning your house will also have a positive impact on your emotions.

Overall any exercise that can get your heart moving can be good. The idea behind finding an activity you can relate with is because it is more likely for you to keep doing it if is enjoyable. And because of that, all the benefit for your health will last in the time. Because people who practice, on a regular basis, activities of any intensity are less likely to have symptoms of depression.

How does it work?

All the gamma of positive effects that doing exercise has on mental health can be explained, shortly, by a few theories:

1.            It can distract you: from low impact activities like yoga to some more demanding exercises like weight-lifting. It seems to have a powerful effect of just distracting us from our problem. Because of that, our mind can have the time to learn new healthy habits.

2.            Confidence boost: Developing habits towards a goal to then meet all your objectives can be really refreshing and it can improve your self-esteem.

3.            You will be more social: Exercise it also means connecting with other people, there is always someone willing to help you or at least someone with fitness goals alike yours; the mutual support can be beneficial for your mental health.

4.            The good hormones: it is known that physical activities can release noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin in the bloodstream. These hormones are usually on a shortage of someone that suffers from depression or anxiety. Besides exercise can activate the release of endorphin which reduces pain in our bodies and gives us a sensation of serenity and calm.

Final thoughts

Training, exercising or any other kind of physical activity has an important role as an effective, simple and cheap therapy for depression and anxiety. Since it appears to be a tendency, in our society, for people to go on a sedentary path and with that an ever-increasing rate of depressive and anxious individuals. That is why we should really be giving serious consideration to the fact that our society can have enormous benefit from embracing a fitness lifestyle.

In order to be accepted as a therapeutic tool which also includes medications and psychological therapy. People should take into account that there are individual considerations for every particular case.

There is not a necessity to set ambitious goals for our long-term training or active lifestyle. Instead, we should focus into enjoying the ride and appreciating the journey, the control of the cholesterol in blood, self-gratification and mood improvement. Maybe these reasons will motivate you to try it.

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