In today’s day and age, we have many stressors. It’s not easy trying to keep up with work, kids, school and life in general. Exercise is a tool we can utilize to improve our mental health.
Physical exercise obviously helps to keep our bodies healthy. But did you know exercise will also keep your mind healthy?
Mental health is your psychological, social, and emotional well-being. It affects how you handle life’s challenges.
Nearly half of us will deal with a mental health challenge in our lifetime. That is a huge number of people who will have to face a mental health condition at some point.
We want to make sure to explore all avenues to help improve mental health. Especially ways that don’t have any negative side effects attached.
Benefits to exercising to improve your mental health
• Advances your ability to regulate stress
• Allows you to sleep better improving mood regulation
• Improves your self-esteem
• Increases your energy levels
• Ehances your coping capabilities
• Boosts your sense of control
•Supports your mind to help deal with life’s frustrations
• Reduces muscle tension allowing the body to relax
• Helps lessen negative thoughts
• Prevents or helps to reduce cognitive decline
• Elevates your sense of well-being
• Cultivates better concentration
• Stimulates growth of new brain cells
• Improves your resiliency lowering the affects of stress
• Promotes your body to feel better, which helps the mind feel better
Research shows that exercising can be as helpful as medication or cognitive behavioral therapy. Exercise has a amazing impact on anxiety, ADHD and depression.
It impacts these conditions by regulating the amount of serotonin and dopamine that is released. These are known as the “happy” or feel-good” hormones.
Serotonin can make you happier which helps fight anxiety and depression.
Physical activity can also help you deal with stress levels which in turn can aid mental health.
Having a mental health condition means you are at a larger risk of having a physical disorder (asthma, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes).
How much exercise is needed to improve mental health?
Doing as little as 20 minutes of low-moderate exercises a day will help your mental health!
But any exercise, is better than no exercise! So if you are starting out, or building your tolerance up it is totally okay to start with even 10 minutes of physical activity.
What exercise should you do to benefit not only your body, but most importantly your mind?
There are a few things you want to keep in mind in order to get you started. Beginning a new habit is never easy and can take as long as 254 days before the new habit is standard. Although the average is 66 days to make your new habit automatic.
Here’s a few tips to have the most success using exercise to improve your mental health:
- Gradually build your new exercise routine up
- Pick something you actually enjoy doing
- Set your plan by writing down your intentions (when, how long, where) then schedule it in
- Adjust your plan as you go if something is not working for you
- Try different things to see what your preferences are (try outdoor exercises instead of inside)
Remember that something is always going to be better than nothing. If you can’t push yourself to workout that day, make the barrier so low it wouldn’t make sense not to do it.
For example, if you set your goal to do 30 minutes everyday but don’t have much energy, commit to even 5-10 minutes. A lot of the time when you get started, it won’t seem like a big deal to add an extra 5-10 minutes on. Keep reassessing as time passes seeing what you can accomplish! You don’t have to exercise for a long time to reap the benefits of physical activity.
Getting the most benefit out of exercising
While your working out try to stay mindful. What does this mean? Staying in tune with the moment by focusing on how you feel in your body.
Think of noticing the physical sensations in muscles you are using, how you are breathing, the sound of your footsteps on the ground or the wind in your face.
By staying mindful and in the moment of what you are doing, you are likely to improve your mental health quicker.
I hope this helps! Have the most incredible day and seize the opportunity when you can to exercise to improve your mental health!
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Your Coach Chantal Alexis – Simplifying fitness to get to your best you!