The Link Between Mental Health & Exercise
As the world becomes more receptive to understanding mental health issues and more emphasis is being put on how to be emotionally and psychologically healthy, the link between exercise and mental health have become popular topics of discussion and research.
Taking a holistic approach to your health is important to maintain a balanced lifestyle. For many, the thought of having to exercise fills us with trepidation and it is more of something we HAVE to do, instead of something we should enjoy doing.
By simply moving your body for short periods of time each day you can boost your mood, improve your sleep and help you deal with depression, anxiety and stress.
Dr. Shawna Charles, who received a PhD in Psychology from Walden University, put her love of psychology into action by opening a Los Angeles boxing gym to provide people with the help they need, including fitness, an ear to listen to their problems, and a connection to vital social services. Dr. Charles, like many others in her field, understands the connection between good physical and mental health.
Exercise releases the body’s famous ‘feel good’ chemical, known as endorphins. Endorphins are produced by the brain and spinal cord and are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
They’re responsible for the feelings of happiness or even euphoria. They are also the body’s natural painkiller, giving a feeling similar to that of morphine.
The endorphin rush is often referred to as the ‘runner’s high’ due to the fact that the best way to release this chemical is through exercise.
As exercise boosts your mood and releases endorphins, some medical professionals will prescribe regular exercise as a treatment for mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
The best part is that a healthy dose of exercise can be used safely in conjunction with other treatments such as therapy and medications. One study states that exercise can improve symptoms of depression almost as effectively as antidepressants.
Further to exercise, you can boost your endorphins by practising maintaining a healthy headspace and engaging in mindful activities.
We realise that when you are suffering from depression or anxiety, the last thing you feel like doing is going for a run, but remember even a small win is a win. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or swim 100 laps.
Start with a simple walk around your garden, or 5 sit ups. When you feel the endorphin rush, you will start to feel better. Challenge yourself to do a little more each time.
Make sure you have chosen an activity you enjoy. You don’t have to do anything traditional. Put on your favourite music video and twerk in front of the mirror for 3 minutes, or skip around your block. Anything goes as long as your body is moving. Some Movement is better than no movement.
The most important thing to remember if you are battling mental health issues is that you are not alone. Take baby steps, be kind to yourself. Seek the help of a professional or wellness coach who will assist you with creating a schedule that is manageable for you.
By taking the first step to creating healthy habits to replace the bad ones you will start to feel better both physically, emotionally and mentally.
Body20 Members have access to our Wellness Coaches who are available to work with you on your personal journey. Collaborating with your Champ, the Body20 approach to wellness will pave the way to a stronger, fitter you all round!