The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Dr. Purushothaman
July 17, 2019

In recent times, owing to the competitive environment and tremendous work pressure, people have adopted an inappropriate lifestyle. Monotonous work and long working hours have increased the stress level amongst the working class causing mental health issues. Non-working class is also not an exception to mental health issues ultimately leading to a depressed state of life. Hence it is very essential to spare some time in your schedule to work on yourself and promote your mental as well as physical wellbeing. Exercise will make you feel happy and relaxed because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improves your mood. It will also help you to reduce the feeling of loneliness and isolation. It will also help you to get in touch with the people around you.

What Leads to Mental Health Issues?

A good mental health indicates the absence of mental illness and a psychological wellbeing of a person. Mental health can be affected due to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, separation from loved ones or due to some health issues. Poor mental health can have a negative impact on physical health. Such condition can be treated medically. But instead of relying on medication and suffering from its aftereffects, adopting a healthy lifestyle and being physically active can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.

Some Real Life Stories

Raghav, an IT engineer was living a stressful life due to work pressure, the unfavorable atmosphere at the workplace, financial problems as he was not able to manage his finance properly and was also suffering some health issues like fatigue, tiredness, heavy chest, insomnia etc. Getting up in the morning, travelling at the same time by the same train looking at the same faces with no interaction with anybody, monotonous work at the office caused stress to him followed by irregular food habits causing health issues. Totally stressed Raghav could neither go to the office nor could afford sitting at home. The flow of end number of negative thoughts had put him under a state of depression. Even medical expertise could not show any notable change in his behaviour. One fine day, his neighbor visited him and suggested to accompany him for a morning walk for at least forty-five minutes in the morning before leaving for the office.

On the other hand, Mira, a housewife who lived in the same vicinity where Raghav stayed used to be alone at home after her husband left for the office. She used to keep herself engrossed in her own thoughts the entire day and the maid used to do all the household chores. Slowly she started losing on her health due to pain in her joints, frequent muscle pulls, drowsiness, etc. All these factors had an adverse effect on her mental health and she started being depressed most of the time. The doctor suggested her to spend a few minutes to go for a walk in the morning.

Now, Raghav and Mira started going for a morning walk to the same park. They met a group of people who were very particular about exercising and had a schedule of 7 different types of exercises for 7 days of the week.
After two weeks, they experienced a positive change in their lifestyle.

Exercise provides benefits as it helps the functioning of the brain, thus improving your mental health, relationships with people and makes your life happier. You are in a better position to handle the daily activities.

Also, socializing with people is in a way an exercise offering benefit to your life. Discussing your problems with others makes you feel better. It can provide solutions to your problems just as Raghav could now manage his finance under the guidance of Mr. Kapoor, an investment advisor, who is one of the group members and Mira could find a batch of students to start mathematics coaching classes.

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise makes you feel fresh, energetic, improves your health, sex life and keeps you fit. It makes your muscles work and burn the calories which enhances your physical appearance. It increases your brain sensitivity to the hormones which relieve the feelings associated with depression. It improves your mood and builds a chain of positive thoughts in your mind. It helps you to sleep better. You are unlikely to suffer from diseases like dementia or Parkinson. In addition to these benefits, exercise promotes blood flow which protects your skin and releases hormones which act as anti-aging doses.

Exercise is like a continuum. This continuum will range from sedentary behavior to vigorous physical exercise. There are individual differences in the selection and adoption of different exercises. Some people like simple exercises, but others like vigorous exercise. The most important that that should be remembered is that whether light or vigorous exercise you prefer, you should prefer the best one you like because it's not only providing health benefits but also it should create some inner happiness. However, most of the research shows that moderate levels of exercise can give maximum pleasure and positive mood and vigorous exercise can lead to displeasure. If you are working for both mental health and physical health you should ignore the high intensity workouts and should concentrate on the moderate intensity workout.

Some more issues which you can overcome with the help of exercise are:

  • When you feel you are forgetting things
  • Exercise will make you mentally sharper as endorphins, which are realized while exercising helps you to increase your concentration. Other than these endorphin another neurotransmitter serotonin also plays good role in refreshing and maintaining of our memory. The area of the brain which controls the memory function and thinking process occupies a greater volume in people who regularly exercise than who don’t. Now a day's physical exercise has been used as a powerful tool to prevent cognitive decline in schools and in old age homes.

    Moderate-intensity exercises such as walking, climbing the stairs, playing badminton or any other games, like swimming or dancing should be followed regularly. Such exercises make your heart and sweat glands to pump, thereby boosting the size of the area of the brain which is involved in memory and learning.

  • When you don't get enough sleep
  • Insomnia is a common disorder amongst adults. Physical activities like cycling, aerobics, etc. Improves the quality of sleep and increases its duration. Exercise triggers the level of the body temperature to rise while performing the exercise and when the temperature falls post-exercise, it promotes sleep. It will also help to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms, thus leading to a healthy sound sleep. It will also help to synchronize our circadian rhythm. Thus, it will help to prevent insomnia in a permanent basis.

  • When you experience anxiety and stress
  • Physical activities and exercise produce endorphins, which act as pain killer, thereby reducing the stress level. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals in the brain. Exercising reduces the level of tension, controls mood swings, improves the quality of sleep and stimulate anti-anxiety hormones which in turn helps you to stay calm. Thus naturally produced endorphins as a result of exercise not only help in boosting up the mind and body, but also to boost up or giving extra taste to your life.

  • When you feel depressed
  • Depression is sometimes viewed as an inability to construct our own future. When you are in a state of depression, there is an unceasing flow of negative thoughts in your mind. If you free some time for exercise, you are distracted from the negative thoughts at least for some time. Exercise will improve your mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise helps you to relieve depression by supporting the growth of nerve cells and improves the connection of the nerve cells. You will feel better when there is an improvement in the brain function. Physical activities and exercising is a natural medicine to fight depression.

  • To sum up
  • Moderate amount of exercise daily is bound to bring a positive change within you. When you look around, you will observe that people who are physically active and who are very particular about their daily exercise are more energetic, alert, possess good decision-making skills and they are better performance wise too. Most importantly, they live a happy and a peaceful life. They have a better sense of solving their problems in a positive way rather than having problems with every solution. They can take defeats in a positive way rather than losing confidence in themselves. Hence, exercise is the most effective and the cheapest way to keep you mentally fit. It costs nothing, but a few minutes from your schedule which you should spend on your wellbeing.

    At Living In Wellbeing, we promote all sorts of mental and physical exercises to promote a happy and healthy life.

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