Mental disorders are a significant public health challenge. Physical exercise has been found to have considerable positive health impact in both clinical and unsupervised populations. Physical activity has been shown to alleviate signs of mild to moderate depression, enhance the effort of drug and substance abuse programs by improving, cognitive function, self-image, reduce anxiety, and promote tolerance to stressors.
Exercise also helps foster strong bonds with the people around you by countering social withdrawal. Exercise is a powerful natural medicine for various mental health challenges. Below, we provide facts about how exercise improves mental health.
Improves Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
Regular exercise has numerous physical achievements including weight loss and enhanced muscle tone. These achievements help boost self-esteem and confidence. For instance, you can wear more fitting clothes, go out hiking with friends, and look slimmer and younger. All these benefits boost your mind, body, and spirit.
Exercise can also help you have enough sleep at night. Physical activity raises the body temperature, which helps calm the mind leading to better sleep at night and increased productivity during the day. Exercise also helps in controlling when your body can focus and when rest is required by regulating your circadian rhythm. Sleep experts recommend exercise not to be undertaken when you are just about to go to bed since this increases your ability to focus, thus it will take time before the calming effect to the brain can take place.
Exercise and Depression
Studies have shown that exercise can effectively treat mild to moderate depression. Also sticking to an exercise schedule can prove useful in preventing depression survivors from relapsing. Exercising has some benefits in the fight against depression. Firstly, it promotes neural growth, creates new activity pattern which promotes good feelings and calmness. Secondly, exercising helps prevent the inflammation of the brain caused by oxidative stress. Finally, exercise helps you to distract your mind momentarily from the challenges that you are facing and lets you see the happier side of life. This disruption is crucial in curtailing negative thoughts that make you depressed.
Exercise and Anxiety
Exercise is a natural remedy against anxiety. Aerobic exercises stimulate the body to release endorphins which promote your body’s well-being, relieves stress and tension, and raises mental and physical energy. Besides, exercise increases blood circulation in the brain making you be in good moods. The increased flow of blood to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis helps kick in the physiologic reactivity to stress. The HPA axis coordinates some regions in the brain to put up the fight against stress. These regions include the limbic system, charged with the control of mood and motivation, hippocampus, charged with the formation of memory, and amygdala, which responds to stress by generating fear.
Exercise and Stress
When you are stressed, your muscles become tense, and you might experience back, neck, chest pain, or a headache. Additionally, you might experience sleep difficulties, stomach ache, loose stool, heartburn, and frequent urination. All these aggravate your bad situation which can lead to depression. Exercising is a crucial method to break this vicious cycle of discomfort by relaxing your muscles and relieving tension. When the body becomes relaxed, the mind also achieves a similar effect. You can then be in a position to think positively including finding solutions to your stressors.
Exercise and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Regular exercise regularly is among the simplest and most effective methods of minimizing ADHD symptoms, improve memory, concentration, mood, and motivation. Physical activity provides the brain with an immediate boost of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These chemicals enhance focus and attention levels. Exercise works similarly with ADHD medication including Adderall and Ritalin
Enhances Sharp Memory and Thinking
Besides evoking a feel-good feeling due to the production of endorphins, exercises enhance mental sharpness and the ability to think fast. Exercise also helps stave off age-related brain cell decline and stimulates new brain cells development.
Exercise and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma
There is strong evidence to suggest that focusing on how your body feels as you exercise helps “unstuck” the nervous system out of stress-response effects from trauma and PTSD. Exercises help positively distract your mind by focusing on physical sensation in joints and muscles. Among the best exercises to alleviate trauma and PTSD include swimming, weight lifting, skiing, walking, and running.