It is widely known that exercise is great for your physical health and improving your physique, but did you know its extremely beneficial to your mental health? Exercise is much more than lifting weights, running, or trying to lose weight and tone muscles. Exercise or physical activity positively impacts a number of biological, as well as psychological, mechanisms. Exercise is medicine- It allows for better sleep, more motivation, and more focused, positive thoughts. Regular exercise can have a profound impact on mood, anxiety, depression and ADHD. Research indicates that regular exercise or physical activity can be used as a powerful asset to improving overall mental health.
Exercise & Depression
Depression is a mental health disorder that is marked by persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in activities that causes impairment in every day life. Research has shown that exercise can be just as helpful as antidepressant medication with moderate levels of depression. Research has also proven that maintaining a regular exercise schedule can prevent individuals from relapsing. In a study conducted by Chan et al (2015), it was found that completing aerobic exercise for 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of serve depression by 26%.
Exercise & Anxiety
Anxiety Disorders are extremely prevalent among psychiatric conditions with a lifetime prevalence of nearly 33% in the United States (Anderson & Shivakumar, 2013). Exercise could be considered as an effective, natural treatment for anxiety. Exercise has been known to reduce stress and tension, while also boosting mood and physical energy. It has been proven that exercise improves well being because of the endorphins that are produced during and after exercise. Exercise also enables you to focus on an activity or movement, thus can interrupt anxious thoughts.
Exercise & Stress
As humans, our bodies and mind endure stress frequently. Sometimes our muscles are stiff, we experience painful tension headaches, chest pains, insomnia, stomachaches, etc. All of these symptoms can take a tool on our bodies, and exercise can effectively reduce this. A study conducted by Childs & de Whit (2014), showed that those who regular engage in exercise, tend to relieve emotional and physical stress, along with reduce symptoms such as heart-rate and headaches, and cortisol levels.
Exercise & ADHD
ADHD affects many adults, and its wide variety of frustrating symptoms can hinder important aspects of your life. Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Regular exercise improves memory, concentration, motivation, and mood. Physical activity rapidly boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. This can directly affect focus and attention. (Mehren et al., 2020). Regular exercise can be a natural treatment for ADHD as exercise works the same was as ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin.
Additional Mental Health Benefits
Even if your not experiencing mental health problems, regular physical activity can still boost your mood, outlook, and mental well-being.
Exercise can help provide:
Sharper memory and thinking