Mental health issues have long prevailed, and regardless of the advancements, such issues keep escalating. After all the technological advancements and developing prospects for the next generation, 700k people commit suicide every day (WHO report). We are living in an era that moves rapidly.

Did you know that according to WHO statistics, one in every four adults does not engage in the global-advised amount of physical movement? Due to quarantine, this rate of low physical activity has decreased further.

The global population is ageing rapidly. As per WHO reports, between 2015-2050, the aged population will double its current strength. It will surge from 900 million to a drastic 2 billion. As the population is ageing, the mental conditions among the ageing population require special care for the mental issues that prevail for the elderly.

Seeking mental assistance is the way to get help, but there are several preventive measures to strengthen your mind. Physical exercises are advised comprehensively for the same; WHO also recommends the same for people in quarantine during the covid crisis. The declining mental health is a big reason we must incorporate such a regime into our routine.

Let’s learn about reaping mental health benefits through exercise. Also, if the two actually correlate?

the psychological benefits of exercise

Why Does Exercise Make Us Feel Better Mentally?

Endurance athletes regularly exercise as it is a part of their routine and especially because it brings them happiness. Exercise can help you elevate your mood, focus, and attentiveness. It also enables you to have a more cheerful attitude toward life. It is also an effective tool to beat insomnia which is very common among the current generation.

The interrelation between fitness and mental health is a vast concept. Lack of activity, for instance, is both an origin and an effect of a mental condition. But, there are other ways how your physical health may enhance your psychological health:

  • During the workout, the amounts of neurochemicals - serotonin, anxiety hormones, and dopamine change.
  • Working out regularly helps reduce anxiety. You can maintain mental health through exercise and keeping a regular sleep cycle. Getting enough sleep boosts your mood.
  • Physical activity helps you control any negative thoughts, enhances impulse control, and helps build self-confidence. Individuals involved in some physical activity daily/frequently know how rewarding it is to accomplish a goal.
  • It helps keep your focus away from anxious thoughts while providing a leeway to explore new activities.
  • When you exercise in groups, you can socialise and actively form networks with fitness or mental wellbeing groups.
  • Physical activity boosts your metabolism.
  • Strength training might help you release unwanted mental distress, which is common among working professionals.
  • Regular exercise makes you feel relaxed by reducing skeletal muscle tension.

These are the benefits of mental health through exercise.

Did you know that one in every five Australian adults suffers from a mental or behavioural condition? ABS reported the same in 2020.

Physical exercise has several advantages for people who have some mental conditions. It is good for maintaining good heart health and overall physical wellbeing. Exercising is important because people with symptoms of depression are more likely to develop disorders such as cardiovascular illness, hypertension, asthma, and diabetes.

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how to stay motivated to exercise

Where to Start Physical Activity and Stay Motivated?

If exercising regularly isn't already a part of everyday practice, you may be questioning how much is enough to enhance your mental health. The best part is that the workout is not as draining as you think. According to studies, mild - to - moderate aerobic workouts are sufficient to improve your mood and cognitive processes.

As per “Australia’s physical activity and sedentary guidelines,” an average adult must be active thrice a week. The minimal requirement is 1.5-2 hours of mild-to-moderate exercises like walking, jogging or swimming. Also, those already familiar with moderate physical exercises can indulge in 2-2.5 hours per week of cycling, sprinting, or team sports.

It is a real challenge to get back if you haven’t exercised in a while or are entirely new to any exercise. Here’s how you can stay motivated:

  • Consult your doctor or an authorised exercise physiologist before beginning and frequently as you go through your exercise programme.
  • Pick an activity you love or have previously enjoyed that is appropriate for your cardiovascular fitness and ability. Even low-level exercises are considered useful for improving mental health through exercise.
  • Begin modestly and progressively increase your activities. Ideally, change your tasks to avoid boredom.
  • Record your schedule in your journal or planner, so it becomes part of your routine.
  • Constantly review your workout programmes and start something new if it's not right for you, try something else but don't stop.

According to the WHO advisory, people ages 18-64 years should engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to intense cardio exercises.

Incorporate fitness into your daily routine. Rather than driving, try walking or cycling. Exit a station/stop sooner and cover the rest of the distance on foot. Alternatively, take considerable time walking your pet around your neighbourhood. You can also get enough exercise by gardening, cleaning your car, or doing other house chores.

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What Are Some Things to Consider Before You Can Reap Mental Health Benefits Through Exercise?

Before you begin a new workout regimen, see your therapist ensure that it is suitable for you. Consult your doctor to determine what exercises, how much? and what intensity is appropriate. The counsellor will evaluate any drugs you are taking and your medical history. They may also have useful tips for beginners and remaining focused.

When you work out consistently, but your anxiety or stress symptoms persist, consult your therapist or a psychological health expert. Sports and physical exercise are excellent strategies to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, but they are not a replacement for talk therapy (psychotherapy) or pharmaceuticals.

As per WHO, there has been a 13 per cent rise in the prevalence of mental health issues since the last decade.

Engage with your mind and your feelings. If you understand your medicines make you exhausted in the mornings, prepare to be active in the evening. If you've been feeling discouraged all day, go for a stroll. A short stroll might help you achieve optimal mental health through exercise and boost your energy flow.

Be kind to yourself, and don't push yourself if you don't feel motivated or have the energy to spare. It's still Ok to take a break and accomplish little, but don't fall into your impulses.

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About the Author

Keith Morris

Keith Morris

Keith Morris is a certified nurse who retired as a registered nurse after participating in a WHO campaign in Geneva. He is dedicated to helping students score good grades in their nursing courses and are offered a chance to help the people and establish a better healthcare community across the globe. He works as a nurse at a local clinic with underprivileged children and provides assignment guidance to the students. Reflection writing, aged care, Gibbs reflective cycle, cardiac nursing, pathophysiology, etc. are a few to name from his area of dominance.


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