Numerous studies have found that exercise can assist with a range of mental health problems – it can even add years to your life! Here are some of the ways exercise can assist:
One in five Americans over the age of 18 years, and one in three teens, is said to be living with a chronic anxiety disorder. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include nausea and stomach pain, headaches, insomnia, sweating, shortness of breath, and muscle pain.
Exercise promotes change in the brain, including reducing inflammation and promoting feelings of calm. A study by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that running for just 15 minutes a day, or walking for an hour, can reduce the risk of major depression by 26%. Exercise not only relieves symptoms, it helps to prevent a relapse. By taking 30 minutes out of your day to walk around the block or stepping into nature, you’re also giving yourself a distraction from negative thoughts.
When you feel stressed, your body tenses up. You might experience headaches, a tight chest, muscle cramps, and you might also have insomnia, diarrhea, and tummy pain. Exercising helps to release endorphins to the brain that can relieve tension and relax your muscles. By allowing your body to feel better, your mind will start to feel better too.
If you live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) you’ll find that your concentration wavers quickly, you talk excessively, act without thinking, fidget, and you’re generally unable to sit still. As much as you want to just sit and relax, your mind won’t let you. Rather than putting up with that, get up and take yourself for a walk or a workout at the gym. Exercise helps to boost the dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. These all play an important role in staying focused.
As well as assisting with the above, exercise can also help improve your memory and stimulates the growth of new cells; leads to higher self-esteem and self-worth to make your feel better about yourself, and gives you more energy. By walking, running, or hitting the gym daily, you can also sleep better, and you’ll cope easier with the stresses of everyday life (without turning to alcohol or drugs).
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your mental health. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel!