It has long been known that exercise benefits our bodies in multiple ways. In fact, many people make a new year’s resolution to exercise more regularly in order to keep fit and reduce the onset of aging. Sadly, many fail to keep to their promises.

In moderation, exercise helps to improve our total wellbeing. Granted, you may be feeling well, but even a small amount of physical activities has the effect of making you feel better. Medical experts have also hinted that a regular routine of exercise can greatly reduce your chances of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even dementia.

How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health

The Connection Between Exercise and Mental Health

Physical exercise improves your overall health. It keeps you fit thereby boosting your self-esteem. A high percentage of people with mental health challenges have also been found to exhibit low self-esteem and poor self-perception.

Additionally, exercise helps improves your mood. During physical activities, your body releases neurochemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals have the effect of lifting your spirits and making you light-hearted.

Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress as well as other forms of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. If you exercise regularly, your body will feel more relaxed, leading to improved sleep. Unhealthy sleeping patterns are often contributory factors to cognitive impairments. Healthy sleeping is as important to your mental wellbeing as it is to your physical wellbeing.

A report by Harvard Medical School also indicated that exercise has the ability to boost your memory and thinking skills. According to the report, it does this directly by stimulating the production of growth chemicals that facilitate the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, thus improving the general health of new brain cells.

An increasing body of evidence also suggests that parts of the brain associated with memory and thinking are bigger in people who exercise than in people who rarely do. This was noticed in people who had a regular program of exercise that lasted at least six months.

Can Exercise Be Too Much of A Good Thing?

If you are a fitness enthusiast, chances are you may have heard the term “Overtraining.” What does this actually mean? It may have different implications for different people, depending on the type of physical activity engaged in. In general terms, it means exercising too often, too much, too often too intense.

First off, you need to understand that rest is very important to the body. Repeatedly working out the same muscle may be counterproductive, resulting in injury and reduced performance. When muscles are overworked, there is a tendency for the load to be transferred to the joint. By design, joints are structured for movement, not for bearing load.

Secondly, you also need to be aware that the body is designed to better function with variation. Fitness instructors usually prescribe undergoing different activities or exercise each time you work out. In so doing, you tone different muscle groups on different days. A lot of resources on exercise are available online or you can talk with a fitness coach for ideas.

When it comes to setting the right amount of exercise, it must be recognized that everyone is different in terms of physical makeup, stamina, and state of health. However, fitness experts often prescribe an average of three sessions of exercise or more weekly, with each session lasting between 45 and 60 minutes. Based on your unique circumstances, you may want to adjust it to 30 mins per session. With constancy, you should be able to notice remarkable improvements in your mood after 4 weeks.

Choosing the Right Exercise for you

Does one type of exercise produce better results for brain health? The answer is inconclusive at the moment. To a large extent, choosing the right type of exercise depends on what you love doing. For example, if you do not enjoy aerobics, chances are, you will not keep at it for long. It will become increasingly difficult to find the motivation to get up at 6.00 A.M to go jogging.

But what if you can’t find an activity you really enjoy doing? Then you can choose an activity you hate the least. Why not consider brisk walking? Walking is a great exercise that benefits most muscles in the body. It will be great if you can find a walking partner. To make things really interesting, you may try walking with a different partner each day of the week. With a walking partner, you’ll be surprised how fast time flies.

On the other hand, if walking isn’t your stuff, then you may try a fitness center. There is always a variety of programs you can choose from. Plus, they always have trainers on hand to get you going.

Whatever exercise you choose, it is vital that you start at a low intensity and gradually ramp it up over the period of your program. This is important for keeping your motivation high and for sticking to your routine. Benefits of regular exercise may not be immediately noticeable, but in the course of time, your brain will have much to thank you for!

You don’t have to go it alone

Depression, sadness, anxiety disorders, stress, and worry can make it difficult to find happiness in your life. We all need support at different times in our lives.  Most of my clients seek help when their current way of dealing with life’s challenges no longer works for them. With a caring, non-judgmental and solution-focused approach, we will explore your issues and challenges in a safe therapeutic environment at my private practice in Delray Beach, Florida.

I also offer remote online therapy from the comfort and security of home that will allow you to learn more effective ways of managing your anxiety and stress.

Let’s walk the path to freedom from depression and anxiety together. If you’re ready to let go of the sadness, depression, fears, worries, and anxieties that are making life difficult, check out my Anxiety & Depression Support Group hosted the 1st Tuesday of each month at my private practice.