Psychiatry studies have shown that an inactive lifestyle can contribute to health consequences later in life and is a risk factor for developing health problems such as heart disease. Increased physical activity can aid in reducing the chances of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis. Not only does exercising affect physical health, but the effects of exercise play a role in your mental health as well.
Depression and anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental disorders faced by millions of individuals today, especially in light of the Covid-19 crisis of the moment. With the staggering number of people suffering from depression and social anxiety disorders, the symptoms of depression, and symptoms of anxiety that these people face can significantly affect one’s daily life and health. Having an active lifestyle has shown to reduce depression while also improving other aspects of people’s lives—self-confidence, sleep, social life.
Exercise Promotes Your Mental Health
With a simple lifestyle modification, one of the benefits of exercise is that it has been shown to significantly improve an individual’s mood. This happens in a number of ways, the most commonly known reason being the production of endorphins. These are natural hormones released from the body, which function as an analgesic to decrease the body’s perception of pain.
Thus, endorphins are also referred to as “feel-good” chemicals and can act as a sort of natural antidepressant. Exercise sessions may also increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your brain, which can have mental health benefits.
An alternative way that a regular exercise program promotes mental health is caused by the increase in blood circulation to the brain. This influences parts of the brain, known as the hippocampus-amygdala-pituitary axis, that play a role in the formation of mood and motivation.
Research shows that just spending a minimum of 30 minutes engaging in moderate physical exercise for three days a week can result in positive changes to one’s mental health. Regular physical activity promotes one’s mood and therefore lowers the chances of depression, anxiety, and related disorders. An individual’s mood can also be affected by their appearance. So, working out promotes weight loss and increased strength. Perceived improvement in looks can serve to increase self-confidence and esteem, leading to an overall better mood.
Regular exercise has also been shown to increase mental alertness and combat daytime drowsiness. As a result, an individual will have an increased amount of energy to go about the day. This can aid in better productivity throughout the day and add to the positive effects of boosting self-esteem.
Encourages Better Sleep
Working out promotes a host of physical and mental benefits, and quite surprisingly, it also can improve an individual’s quality of sleep. Studies have been shown that engaging in aerobic exercises can decrease insomnia and restless nights. As we already know, exercising releases the natural chemical known as endorphins from our brains. This acts to relieve any mental stress or negative energy that may have been in the mind, affecting one’s quality of sleep.
Mental illness and mood disorders are often linked to poor sleep, as well. In fact, working out is a great way to relieve stress, clear the mind, and practice mindfulness. One example is engaging in yoga and meditation. This is a great way to not only workout but also focus the mind on the body’s energy and finding a sense of calmness.
Exercising also facilitates in promoting a “sleeping” effect by raising the body’s core temperature. In doing so, the body will cool down after 30 to 90 minutes resulting in a drop in temperature. This causes the body to feel tired and prepares the mind for sleep.
However, it is important to keep in mind that working immediately prior to bedtime may not help with sleep. The timing of the exercise does play a role because endorphins are released as you work out. This may increase brain activity when, in fact, you want to decrease it before going to sleep. Therefore, exercise 1 to 2 hours prior to bedtime to avoid this.
Encourages An Increase In Social Life
Exercising can come in many different forms, such as going to the gym or even participating in sports. Interestingly, exercising with a group can improve one’s social life. By interacting with others, especially in a team sport, you learn to build social interaction skills. Working with others and developing a friendship with one another can lead to accountability and greater motivation in your life. When a group of individuals comes together with the same goal, this kind of mindset leads to positive team morale and serves to increase an individual's well being.
Group exercises can also teach a person to become more disciplined and help keep them on track to achieving their workout goals. Learning to depend on another team member and appreciate them can result in team-building skills. This kind of skill can also translate to the workplace for some individuals and help to improve their daily life. Additionally, a group effort can have synergistic effects in helping individuals achieve success.
Feeling like you belong to something bigger than yourself is one of the significant ways that exercising can have a positive effect on social life. It is the comradery, trust, and pride of being a member that can help bolster one’s outlook on life and the way they interact with others. Whether it is through team sports or group classes at the gym, group exercises sure have the ability to positively impact your social life.
Other Benefits From Exercise
As previously stated, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity for at least three times a week should yield results of improved psych. If you are looking to strengthen the body and burn more fat, you may need to increase the intensity and duration of the exercise routine. By doing so, you may be able to see other benefits pertaining to increased strength. Exercising can help to control the blood sugar level of the body and decrease the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
It has also been shown that exercise increases circulation, which allows more oxygen to be delivered to the body, therefore lowering the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, working out can be of significant benefit for those who have hypertension. Regular exercise can help control and lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels as well.
Some have suggested that exercise may aid the cessation of smoking and reduce the urge to smoke as well. There are possible links to the benefits of exercising in order to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Depending on the type of activity done, exercising can help to improve the balance of older adults and prevent future wear and tear of muscles. In any case, exercising has been shown to significantly impact both mental and physical health.
Types Of Exercise To Improve Psych
There are a variety of exercises that can be done to promote the wellness of mental health. Yoga and meditation is an excellent way to calm the mind while also taking time to focus oneself on the body. You can choose to do this either as a routine in the morning or night, depending on your preference. Aerobic exercises that increase the heart rate for a sustained amount of time are good workouts that will allow the body to increase the level of endorphins. Some individuals find that running or even swimming will elicit the “runner’s high” effect.
It is important when choosing what type of exercise to do that you pick one of moderate intensity with a considerable duration. Typically, exercising should make you sweat, get your heart rate up, and increase your core body temperature. Other ways of exercising can include kickboxing, cross-fit, and indoor cycling.
Starting A Workout Routine
Whichever way you choose to exercise, it is important to keep to a regular schedule and stay consistent with it. Developing a healthy habit of exercising will yield the greatest results. Though change does not happen overnight, keep in mind that exercise should be incorporated into your weekly schedule as a lifestyle change. The more you exercise, the more you will be able to figure out what types of workouts work best for you.
The key is to know your own limitations and how far you can push yourself. Start small with an attainable workout goal and work up from there. Exercising may be uncomfortable at first, as your body is adjusting to the new lifestyle. But over time, your endurance and ability will increase, and you can slowly add to the intensity of the workout from there.
Overall, exercising has been proven to positively affect the psyche of an individual. It helps in increasing one’s mood, reducing the feelings of depression and anxiety, and is a healthy manner of releasing stress. Of course, exercise does not replace professional healthcare, and you should always speak with a mental health professional about mental health issues that you may be facing, especially if you have a serious condition like major depressive disorder or a stress disorder. They will be able to best guide you on a path to treatment. Having a regular workout schedule can also help improve the quality of sleep and bolster the self-confidence and esteem of others.
Depending on the type of workout you do, a group exercise can also aid in enhancing your social life. Building accountability with others and motivating teammates will help to improve one’s quality of their daily life. There are numerous alternative benefits to exercising, including the reduced risk of chronic diseases and possible aid in quitting smoking. Whatever way you go about exercising, it will only serve to improve your overall quality of life, especially in this trying time, while we deal with the coronavirus. Develop a healthy habit of working out, and you are sure to see a change in your mental and physical health.