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The importance of exercise & mental health

Everyone says that daily exercise is good for health and body. That’s a fact, and don’t you know that it can improve your mood, sleep and help you deal with mental problems like depression, anxiety, stress, and many more?

Exercise is just not about improving your muscle size. Undoubtedly, regular exercise improves your physical health, improves your sex life, builds a strong physique and even adds some years to your life. Well, that is not the main thing that motivates people to exercise and stay active.

Some people tend to do exercise regularly because it gives them a tremendous feeling of wellbeing. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. 

Moreover, daily exercise is a powerful medicine for many mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It provides relief from stress and boosts your overall mood.

 Research indicates that you no need to be a fitness freak to gain the benefits; a moderate amount of exercises can also create a big difference in your life. 

You can use exercise as a potential tool to fight against mental health problems irrespective of your age & fitness level and get more out of your life.

Exercise & depression

Studies say that practising exercise can help to treat mild to moderate depression, much like antidepressants without any side-effects. A recent study in Harvard School of Public Health discovered that if you run for 15 minutes or walk an hour a day, it can decrease the risk of depression by 26%. 

Research also says that it not only provides relief from depression symptoms but also prevents you from relapsing if you maintain a daily exercise schedule.

Exercise is a strong anti-depression tool for several reasons. It mainly influences some changes in your brain, such as neural growth, reduces inflammation, and generates new activity patterns to improve feelings of calmness and wellbeing. It also tends to discharge endorphins, the chemicals released in your brain to relieve stress and pain. Eventually, exercise distracts you from negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise & anxiety

Daily aerobic exercise is a proven natural anti-anxiety treatment. It decreases overall levels of tension and stress. It also boosts your physical and mental health and improves your wellbeing by releasing endorphins. Try noticing the feeling when your feet touch the ground or feel your breathing rhythm or the air when it touches your skin.

By concentrating on your body elements and how your body is feeling while you exercise, you’ll improve your physical health and also be able to get out of constant worries going through your mind.

Exercise & stress

Have you ever noticed the feeling of your body when you are under stress? In particular, the muscles of your face, neck, and shoulders can become stressed, causing back, neck pain and headaches. You may also experience chest tightness, dizziness, and muscle cramps. It can also cause problems like Insomnia, heart problems, stomach pain, diarrhoea, frequent urination etc. Discomfort and the feeling of insecurity from these physical symptoms increase stress and create a negative balance between mind and body.

Exercise is the best way to break the stress cycle. In addition to releasing endorphins in your brain, exercise provides relaxation to muscles and ease tension in your body. When the close relationship between your body and mind is fair, it makes you feel more comfortable and relaxed. 

Exercise & ADHD

Regular exercise is one of the simplest and best ways of reducing ADHD symptoms and improving concentration, memory, and mood. Exercise increases levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain, affecting concentration and attention. In this way, exercise works like ADHD medications like Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise & PTSD & Trauma

Experts say that focusing on your body and your feelings as you exercise actually “relaxes” your nervous system and begins to respond to PTSD or immobile stress, indicating weakness. They say that while walking, pay attention and observe your physical sensations and your muscles and what is happening in your body when you move. Some of the best options are exercises that include walking (especially on the sand), jogging, swimming and dancing etc. 

Outdoor activities such as hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, rafting and ice skating have also been impactful to reduce PTSD symptoms.

Some other mental health benefits of regular exercise

Though you don’t have any mental illness problems, regular exercise can improve your mood, wellbeing, and health. 

Sharper memory and thinking – Exercise speeds up the development of new brain cells and helps you to improve memory power, concentration and prevent age-related decline. 

Improves self-confidence – Regular exercise is a good investment in your brain, body and soul. If you make it a habit, it increases your self-esteem and makes you feel healthier. You will feel better about your behaviour, appearance, and you will feel more successful by incorporating small exercise goals. 

Better sleep – Exercise in the morning or evening can help you adjust your sleep patterns. Some people prefer exercising at night time; it can also help to relax and promote sleep if you choose simple exercises and yoga.

More energy – If you invest a few times a week in physical activities, it helps to improve your heart health. Start doing exercise just a few minutes every day, and increase your workout plans once you feel more energized.

Strong resistance – When you face challenges mentally and emotionally in your life, these exercises can be a game-changer that can help you to build resistance and cope up healthily instead of addicted to alcohol, drugs, or other harmful habits that eventually make your life worse. Regular exercise can also improve your immune system and makes you disease resistant.

Dr Prithika Chary, a Neurologist and Neurosurgeon, a Life Coach & Brain Health Coach, says that there is no need to dedicate yourself to the gym for hours of day-to-day training or no need to run miles to get the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. 

Just spend 30-minutes every day or at least five times a week doing some moderate exercise. And you can gain enormous mental health benefits along with physical health.

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