Coach Tony here to talk about the benefits of exercise on mental health. The physical benefits of exercising go without saying. The focus of this post though, is of the more underlying benefits that are not as obviously observed. The psychological and emotional benefits of regular movement show us the real value of having a fitness routine. With anxiety disorders affecting about 40 million adults and depression hitting more than 15 million adults in the U.S. alone, the advantages of finding your preferred form of exercise can be life changing.
The Benefits On Mental Health
As you become more active, neurotransmitters (such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) and endorphins are released in your brain that specifically help you feel better, manage stress better and reduce the perception of pain. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to be connected strongly to help keep you cognitively sharp into later life as it helps prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, which is used in memory and learning. Moving on a regular basis can also help you get a better night’s sleep, which again goes hand in hand with stress reduction. Also, various studies have shown that keeping fit can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.
Put simply, if you want to have a higher sense of overall well-being, you should start moving.
Where Do I Start?
Now that we know exercise is good for you, let us make a game plan.
Now I know that life happens and then priorities start to shift. Try not to have an all-or-nothing mentality. Instead, see if you can have more of an Always Something. See if you can do just a little something most days of the week. Just a 5 min walk will help, if you feel like you can’t do it because you are exhausted.You can also schedule physical activity just like you would with work to fit small amounts into an already overwhelmed schedule. If you do not want to start out being in front of people, maybe home workouts may be better. Need to be held accountable? Find a walking buddy.
Walking is good way to start slow with something that is low impact if you are starting from scratch and not sure what to do first. All it takes it moving 30 minutes a day a few times a week. If you don’t have that kind of time in one block, try breaking it up. Go for 3 10-minute walks or 2 15-minute walks. If the work week does not even allow for that, then become a weekend warrior and fit in physical activity any way you can. Moderate intensity is a good place to start. If you are going for a walk with a friend, you should be able to have conversation comfortably and feel a little bit warmer.
Also, set yourself up for success. If you have higher energy levels in the morning, go for a walk or a jog when you wake up and make yourself a nice breakfast when you get back home. Busy work schedule? See if you can get yourself moving in the middle of the day.
The body and mind are closely related. When you start to treat the body better through exercise and relieve physical tension, the mind will start to relax. The mind-body connection is strong. Capitalize that fact and leverage it to your advantage. Tend to the body and mind will reap the benefit. Find something you enjoy and stick with it. I should mention though, that if you do want some of these benefits faster, you will have to bump up the intensity. Do with this what you will. Have fun and be healthy.
Until next time Famiglia,