Can exercise improve mental health?

iacinternational/ June 20, 2019/ Blog, Fitness

One way that’s receiving a lot of very favourable press is exercise. Be it light, moderate or all out, the health benefits of exercise.

So how can exercise improve mental health?

Exercise can ease anxiety

Anxiety gets in the way of our confidence and concentration. It creates all sorts of fears that stop us from being who we want to be. And while there are some very good medications to help control the debilitating effects of anxiety in daily life, exercise is the most natural and rewarding way to beat it into submission.

Exercise unleashes endorphins, a powerful well being chemical to work their magic on the brain. The result is a release of tension and stress and an equally welcome energy burst. The key is to focus on the exercise itself – movements and breathing – almost meditating on every repetition. This distracts the mind away from a world of worry long enough for those other great benefits to take effect.

Exercise can reduce depression

There have been all kinds of studies into just how depression responds to exercise and there is some good news. Regular exercise can actually deal with mild to moderate depression as well as antidepressants. As no one really enjoys taking pills, this is a great opportunity for depression sufferers who wish they had more control over their health to do exactly that. By adopting a proper training program, depression sufferers will soon see the rewards are not only in a stronger body, but in a healthier mind. 

Quite simply, exercise is good for the brain, promoting neural growth, reducing inflammation and helping to create an all round feeling of relaxation. If that’s not enough to convince, exercise also releases those uplifting endorphins.

Exercise improves all round well being

It might be hard work, but exercise is the most natural wonder drug on the planet. And it is addictive in the nicest possible way. Once into a routine of regular, organised activity – be it weights, aerobics, yoga or whatever – the emotional rewards become a positive need; an integral part of the day. And it’s not hard to see why.

Better concentration, sharper memory and clearer thinking. If that was all exercise achieved, it would be plenty. But no; you can add improved self-esteem, greater self-confidence and oodles of new energy to the list. Oh, and let’s not forget more restful sleep. With regular exercise, people with depression or anxiety issues also feel far less inclined to lean on alcohol for relief. They get that relief working out.

It’s easy to get started

Starting a regular exercise program doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym, though a lot of people do respond well to the energy of a shared training environment. But there are other ways. The internet is full of downloadable training programs. Better still, a personal trainer can prepare a program specific to individual health and fitness needs. It’s also a very good idea to check with a doctor and be advised on what form of training would be most beneficial.

What’s the best exercise for mental health?

That depends on a variety of things: fitness level, general health, weight and age. Again, a doctor or personal trainer can gauge whether light, moderate or heavy training would be of most benefit.