Mental Health & Exercise

Mental health is just as vital as physical health! Unsurprisingly, the two go hand-in-hand. 

The National Mental Health Plan (2003-2008) acknowledges the equal importance of a patient with a mental illness’ physical health as well as their mental well-being in their care management.

Physical activity can benefit one’s mental health through many ways…

Some mental health benefits of exercise include:

Reduction in anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms – Through the release of endorphins that occurs during exercise, these symptoms can be reduced or alleviated.

Improved sleep – Studies have found that participants who began exercising regularly reported their quality of sleep had improved and they were able to sleep through the night. This means you can feel better in the morning and prepared to take on the day after you have been well-rested.

Exercise can be a social activity – Whether you are going for a walk with a friend or attending a fitness group, exercise can be a social activity. Therefore, the benefits of building relationships and enjoying other’s company are reaped also.

Provides a sense of self-motivation and self-accomplishment – A lack of motivation and negative self-thoughts can be common symptoms of poor mental health. When you achieve a hard workout challenge or just get yourself up and moving, this can make you feel proud of yourself and give you the motivation to complete other challenges in your life.

Improved self-esteem – Similar to the above, exercise can make you feel empowered and strong. You may feel better about your physical appearance or your self-efficacy to exercise.

Memory and cognitive support – The endorphins released during exercise can also provide benefits of concentration and clearer thinking. Exercise is also beneficial in reducing the cognitive effects from aging! 

Some challenges that may interfere with exercise:

A lack of motivation or feelings of hopelessness. 

Sometimes the idea of exercise seems pointless or not worth doing too many people. Finding your reason for exercising is important to fuel your motivation. Is it to reap these mental health benefits perhaps? Start small and set yourself a realistic goal when it comes to beginning an exercise routine. A simple stroll along the beach is a great place to start!

Feeling tired.

The thought of exercise when you are already feeling mentally drained can seem absurd. However, it is important to remember that although our brains may be tired, our bodies are still bursting with energy! Pushing yourself to get out and move your body can be an effective way to feel awake and energized. Setting yourself a goal of 5 minutes of exercise can seem achievable and realistic, and it is likely that you will find yourself exercising for much longer once you get started!

So, what are you waiting for?

Whether it is a swim at the beach or a dance class, get moving your body today to reap these mental health benefits! 

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