It is a known fact that daily exercise is good for the body, but the recently discovered connection between physical and mental health might prove that exercise can be good for the mind as well.
Research has shown that exercise can help combat against mental ailments such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression. Likewise, exercise can help you:
- sleep better,
- improve your memory retention, and
- improve your overall mood.
Although there is no set age to start becoming more physically active, it is best to engage in exercise and other physical activities as early as in your teens, according to medcarehealth.com.
After all, starting out early can help you grow and mature with a mind and a body that is ready for anything.
But, before I delve deep into the connection between mental and physical health, let’s start with a simple question:
What is health?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person who is free from disease or disability is not immediately considered healthy. Instead, you must demonstrate physical, mental, and social well-being in order to be considered truly healthy.
Great, but how are those connected?
The Canadian Mental Health Association lists 3 concrete associations that demonstrate the connection between physical and mental well-being:
- Poor mental health increases the risk for chronic physical conditions.
- Patients suffering from serious mental ailments are at a greater risk of suffering from chronic physical conditions.
- Finally, people suffering from chronic physical conditions might also develop mental illnesses in the future.
These associations show that there is indeed a connection between physical and mental health.
Though there might not be a proven way to prevent these chronic illnesses from developing, acknowledging the relationship between your mind and body can help you minimize potential risks.
What benefits can you reap from exercise?
The primary reason why you might choose to engage in more physical activities is to trim your waistline or to lose some pounds. However, exercise can provide you with so much more.
In a study that aimed to answer the question:” how does physical health affect mental health?”, researchers discovered that elderly adults who engage in regular exercise and are physically fit tend to possess much larger hippocampi than other people in their age group.
Wait, what is hippocampi?
The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for your spatial memory. Maintaining this part of your brain even in your older years gives you a great advantage.
Does mental health affect physical ability?
Meanwhile, in a study conducted by researchers at the Bangor University in Wales, it was discovered that people who engaged in mentally draining activities before performing difficult exercise tests reached exhaustion much faster than those who were mentally relaxed prior to performing the physical task.
This study shows that one of the benefits of nurturing your mental well-being can also affect your physical strength and endurance.
Can exercise combat depression?
According to Jane Collingwood, author of The Relationship between Physical and Mental Health, those individuals suffering from depression often have worse physical health than those who are mentally healthy.
Likewise, patients suffering from chronic physical diseases are also likely to suffer from depression.
Just a little exercise goes a long way
Exercise, even in moderation, can greatly improve both the mental well-being and physical health of those suffering from depression.
Physical activity can help encourage positive changes in your brain such as a surge of endorphin or “feel good hormones”.
Regular exercise can also help distract you from any destructive or negative thoughts and allow you to find your inner peace.
Exercise relieves anxiety
While you might think that the physical benefits that you reap from exercise are the things that make you feel good, its effect on your mind are probably the more likely reason for your happy feelings.
Exercises such as weight training can ease the suffering of people who are living with anxiety by elevating their mood and reducing their feelings of irritability.
Remember: Even moderate daily exercise can contribute to improved long-term mental health.
Reaping the benefits of exercise
photo by zirconicusso
As previously stated, you will not need to block off your entire day just to reap the mental and physical benefits of exercise. You will see a difference in 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
Additionally, while it might take months before you see any significant physical changes after exercise, the mental boost that it can provide is almost instantaneous (Weir, 2011).
For this reason, it would be more beneficial if you learn to focus on how good you actually feel after your workout than to simply look for the physical rewards.
This is particularly important for patients who are suffering from stress or mild cases of depression and anxiety since focusing too much on your physical appearance would only worsen your condition.
Don’t delay another day: simple exercises to get started
One of the easiest ways to sneak some physical activities into your busy schedule is by taking a quick walk to or from your office. Exercise can enable your brain to better manage your stress levels.
The Key Takeaway: Sweating it out even from a brisk walk can help relieve you of your physical pain as well as make you feel more at peace.
Another easy way to get an energy boost is by hopping on a treadmill, jumping on a rebounder trampoline, or lifting a few weights at home or at the gym.
Regardless of your age, weight, or gender, all you really need is the motivation and determination to keep moving.
Exercise and mental health – the undeniable bond
There is a significant amount of proof that supports the connection between physical and mental health. Physically fit individuals are better able to handle stressful situations and those who are mentally healthy are able to handle more difficult physical tasks.
Therefore, it is important to nurture both your physical and mental health in order to reap all possible benefits for your mind and your body.
Want more great health information?
Visit the Rebounder Zone blog to learn more about how you can improve your mental and physical health today.
Robinson, L., Segal, J. Ph.D., & Smith, M. M.A. (2016). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise:The Exercise Prescription for Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and More. Accessed on June 30, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/exercise-fitness/emotional-benefits-of-exercise.htm
Weir, K. (2011). The exercise effect. Vol 42, No. 11. P.48. Accessed on June 30, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx
Leonard Parker is a health blogger and owner of the eCommerce store, RebounderZone.com. Rebounder Zone offers rebounder trampolines, health equipment, and health information to mature adults.
Leonard is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked in a number of roles as a consultant and digital marketing specialist. Rebounder Zone was started because Leonard saw first hand how exercise and healthy living can change lives, and he wants to help others experience this fantastic feeling, too. For any inquiries, please contact Leonard at leonard(at)rebounderzone.com.