Exercise for Mental Fitness

Posted by: Ken Kaus on Friday, April 11, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm

Many people are familiar with the physical benefits of exercise. Whether you exercise to control weight, prevent disease, look fitter or increase your energy levels, everyone can benefit.

Engaging in an exercise program can also improve your sleep, improve your sex life and add fun to your life, but that’s not all. Exercise can also have a great impact on your mental health. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov) reports the following about mental health:

  • An estimated 1 out of 10 US adults reports feeling depressed
  • Millions of Americans are affected by anxiety disorders
  • Studies show that exercise can significantly reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression

Why is exercise so good for mental health? mental-exercise-image

  • Exercise helps to improve self esteem, cognition and intelligence.
  • Exercise stimulates synapses that connect neurons- the more synaptic connections the better your brain functions.
  • Exercise improves concentration.
  • It causes the body to produce endorphins- chemicals in the brain that promote a sense of well-being.  When endorphins are released, the body feels better along with the mind. 
  • Exercise increases body temperature, resulting in a calming effect and a significantly improved mood!

How much exercise do you need to experience benefits?

  • Studies show doing exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week will help improve depression symptoms. 
  • Even 10-15 minutes of activity can benefit the brain. A short, brisk walk can make a difference!

How to get started?

  • Find something you enjoy doing like dancing, cycling, running, or any other activity that will keep you motivated. 
  • Once you find your activity, set a goal for yourself. It can be to prepare for a 5k walk/run or doing that activity for 5 minutes each day.

The point is that moving more often will feed your brain! Take small steps to keep moving forward, and if you experience setbacks, then scale back instead of giving up. Your mental fitness is a crucial for your overall wellbeing.

Some helpful  resources:

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/E/exercise-mental-health/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web2/mmcgovern.html

Original article courtesy of JCCA.org

Comments

Leave a Comment