Your mental health affects how you feel, how you think, and how you socialize with others in your life. The most common mental health issues are anxiety and depression. Every individual experience strong feelings of fear, sadness, or tension at times, but you become mentally unstable when these feelings become so disturbing and overwhelming that they make you find it difficult coping with your everyday routine, such as work, enjoying leisure time, and maintaining relationships.
Level of mental disorders may vary, and at their most extreme, people with these disorders may not be able to maintain their physical wellbeing as well. Certain types of anxiety disorder may even restrict people from leaving their house and socialize with others.
Mental health problems may also involve psychotic issues which are categorized as mental illness rather than just a disorder. Mental illnesses include schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder. People experiencing psychosis, usually lose the sense of reality and develop a world which is different from normal. Their ability to make sense of things and people around them is badly affected. Individuals suffering from psychosis may become delusional and also get hallucinations, where they see, hear, smell, or tastes things that are not real.
According to Australian Government Department of Health, nearly half of all Australians aged 16 to 85 years which counts to 7.3 million people, will experience some sort of mental illness at some point in their life and most commonly suffer conditions such as anxiety, affective disorders like depression and substance use disorders especially alcohol. Women are more likely than men to experience depression and anxiety.
Mental health benefits of exercise
We already know that exercise is good for our health. And there is huge evidence that proves exercise is an effective remedy for individuals suffering from acute and chronic mental illness. A lot of research has been done on exercise as an effective method of treatment for mental health disorders. Most of the studies gave positive results, with some studies suggesting that exercise is equally effective, if not more effective than pharmacological intervention in alleviating depressive symptoms.
Exercising regularly gives an enormous sense of physical fitness, improved mental health and overall well-being. If you exercise daily, it will make you feel more energetic throughout the day and you will sleep better at night and subsequently feel more relaxed and positive about yourself and your life.
Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental disorders can be treated through exercise and results can be profoundly positive if exercise is made part of everyday routine. You don’t have to be a fitness freak to reap benefits of exercise. A little amount of exercise is enough but making it a part of your routine and strictly following it, is what matters the most. If you feel stressed about something or are worried about forgetting things, or suffering sleepless nights, it could be an alarm since these are the symptoms of mental disturbance and if not addressed early could lead to serious mental illness. And the first thing you should opt for is exercise since it relieves stress, improves memory, and helps you sleep better. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can be a powerful tool to feel better and makes a huge difference to your mood as well.
Your body responds to even small deflections in your mental and emotional state and acts as a signal which you can feel. For instance, you may feel stiffness in your muscles which could be caused by anything which is disturbing your mind or in other words you are stressed about something. Stress makes your muscles tense especially your facial muscles response quickly to stress. Similarly, you may feel back or shoulder and neck pain if you are stressed because you back and neck muscles are responding to stress. Exercise helps your body to counter mental stress by relaxing your muscles and when your body gets relaxed it automatically relieves stress.
Exercise is a natural and effective treatment for anxiety. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins which help to relieve tension and stress, boost your physical and mental energy, and enhance your well-being. Have you ever noticed the sensation of your feet hitting the ground when you are jogging out in the park? If not, then you should try to focus on how your body feels and responds to exercise. The feel of the rhythm of your heartbeat or the feel of air hitting your skin will make you feel even better and you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster but also feel positive, and make better decisions about your worries.
Studies suggest that exercise can effectively relieve mild to moderate depression and can be as effective as antidepressant medication. And giving priority to exercise can also save you from side effects of pharmacological intervention for treating depression. An experimental study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded that 15 minutes of running or walking daily, reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
Exercise is specifically very good against depression because it triggers and boosts changes in the brain such as neural growth, reduced nerve inflammation, and activates brain patterns that make you feel calm and composed. Since exercise releases endorphins, powerful chemicals produced by your nervous system and also known as “feel-good” chemicals, it energizes your spirits and makes you feel good. Exercise works as a distraction against negative thoughts and gives you some quiet time to make better decisions about your life.
Exercises recommended for better mental health
You might be thinking of joining a gym to gain benefits of exercise concerning mental health, but it is not necessary. As mentioned earlier, a small amount of easy and simple exercise is all you need but do it regularly.
Aerobic exercises such as jogging, running, swimming, and weightlifting is effective in improving mental conditions such as major depression and anxiety. It is important to keep yourself motivated by trying a variety of different types of activities and choosing one that you enjoy the most.
So, you don’t need to join a gym or hire a professional trainer, instead, indulging yourself in everyday activities like walking the dog, riding a bike, gardening, backyard yoga and weight-lifting can all be equally fruitful.
And if you are not too worried about the cost, you can surely join a gym or a fitness club, or if you like sports you can join your local sports club. Places like a gym or sports club have an additional benefit since you will get a chance to socialize with others like the staff and other members. Social interactions also improve your mental health.