How Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

by | Jul 1, 2020

Depression and anxiety are at an all time high and has hit record levels since this quarantine due to the coronavirus (a.k.a COVID-19, b.k.a “The Rona”). As you may notice, the decrease in social gatherings, increase in spending and body image is not helping the situation.

Many of us understand the effects of an inactive lifestyle and how it contributes to diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and other miseries. If you are one of every three who have considered an active lifestyle then you understand that you are avoiding these chronic miseries. But how?

How can you change that?

Exercise can produce endorphins which is known as the feel-good hormone. This hormone helps you look at problems through a more manageable lens. Exercise is a mood and overall health improving activity.The benefits of exercise include, but are not limited to, improved mood, community through interact with others, energy boost and weight loss.

I truly believe mental and physical health go hand in hand like almond butter and jelly. There has been a plethora of scientific evidence that suggests exercise is more than necessary to maintain good mental health and also used to treat chronic illnesses such as dementia, depression, anxiety and even reduce issues associated with schizophrenia.

Do you find this hard to believe? Well let me break it down for you.

Exercise has a direct affect on the brain. Through exercises, regions of the brain receive a better supply of blood which improves the oxygen and nutrient delivery. Nutrients are a good thing. Where the brain stores memory, learning, and regulation of emotion is called the hippocampus and that is very important for mental health.

There is evidence that states mental health conditions are due to the reduction of neurogenesis in the hippocampus which is particularly found in people with depression. The theory suggests new hippocampal neurons help store new memory and keep old and new memory, not just separate, but distinct. It gives your brain a healthy flexibility when using existing memories and processing new info. Who doesn’t love flexibility?

The reason why mental illness occurs is because of how inflexible cognitive skills are. This type of inflexibility keeps people stuck at repetitive behaviors, restricts the ability to process new information, and impairs the ability to use what is known as a solution to change. This is where frequent exercise comes to help you become mentally and physically flexible. Yes!!

How much exercise to cover the frequent category, you ask?

Experts say “45-60 minutes per session” to treat depression. Effects of this action tend to be noticed about four weeks which is about the amount of time it takes for neurogenesis. Continuing for 10-12 weeks has a large effect on the brain and can act an antidepressant.

With trendy 10-minute workouts, this recommendation seems like a lot of work, but we are talking about your mental health here. Don’t you think it would be worth your while? Oh, and let’s not forget about the possible side effects of increased energy, improved balance, weight loss). Ehh ehh?

Why not reward yourself by creating some new habits to promote better mental health or overall physical health. Who knows, maybe you will be able to toss those prescriptions to the side once and for all.

What say you? Do you think exercise can replace medication for chronic mental health conditions?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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