You may already know how good exercise is for your physical health. But did you know it is also effective in dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, PTSD, trauma and more?
Exercise is not only about your fitness levels. Yes exercise most definitely improves your physical health and physique as well as improve your sex life and even add years to your life. But that is not what motivates most people to stay active.
People that regularly exercise tend to do so because it gives them a sense of happiness. It can help you feel more energetic throughout the day and sleep better at night, it can also help improve your memories and feel more relaxed and positive.
Exercise releases chemicals in your body like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood and stimulates parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning. If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.
Studies show that for treating mild-moderate depression, exercise can be as effective as talking therapy or medication (obviously you need to follow what your doctor suggests though). It can also help to get you out in the world, which can help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.
Guidelines recommend adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most or all days of the week.
Moderate levels of exercise are best for most people. Moderate means that you breathe a little heavier than normal but not out of breath and your body feels warmer but not overheated or very sweaty. If you are wanting more intensive exercise you want to be putting in enough effort that it’s hard to have a conversation while you’re exercising to get the most out of it.
If you can, combine your exercise routine with a healthy diet to boost your motivation and energy for exercise.
You may struggle finding motivation or staying motivated for exercise. Especially if you are experiencing a mental health condition like depression, where the idea of just getting out of bed can seem hard enough. Think about ways you can make exercise part of your daily routine and lifestyle, for example if you own a dog go for a walk with them around the neighbourhood.
And remember, something is better than nothing, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t exercise every day, just do what you can.
Other mental and emotional benefits of exercise
- Sharper memory and thinking - The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate
- Higher self-esteem - When exercise becomes a habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful.
- Better sleep - Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns.
- More energy - The more frequently you exercise, the more energy you will notice you have.
- Stronger resilience - Regular exercise can help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress. It can also be used as a coping mechanism.
Now more then ever it is especially important for you to look after yourself and your mental health. 2020 has been a very strange and different year and we are experiencing things that most of us have never experienced before. A lot of us are currently working from home, some of us not able to work at all. Stress and depression are affecting more people during this period, so taking some time every day to do some kind of physical activity will do wonders for your physical and mental health and at least make this situation a little more bearable.