Exercise for Mental Health
Your health is a measure of more than how many miles you can run or how much you can lift at the gym. While it’s important to strive to achieve a healthy body weight and all of the physical benefits that come along with it, studies are showing extensive evidence that exercise has a huge impact on our mental health as well. In this blog, we’re going to dig into how you can improve mental health through exercise.
High Brain Impact
In a physical sense, exercise improves and increases blood flow and thus improves the blood supply to the brain, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to nourish your body’s control center. The science is starting to tell us that increased activity has a positive impact on the hippocampus, which is responsible for emotion regulation, memory, and our ability to learn. Increasing connectivity and activity here has obvious health benefits by ensuring this vital portion of the brain stays healthy. Knowing this, medical health experts look at exercise as a key component in the treatment of or management of a number of mental health issues.
Those with depression and other mental illnesses are challenged by mental inflexibility and dwell on behaviors that do not allow them to move forward or develop solutions to problems they face. The impact of exercise on the hippocampus mentioned above plays a huge role in the treatment of depression, as the hippocampus helps to regulate our emotions. Increasing the creation of neurons and connections in the organ is a process called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis can allow people to have more mental flexibility in information and memory processing. Combined with the neurochemical impact of exercise and the mental distraction it can provide, those suffering from depression are able to break out of negative thought cycles and focus on treatment.
Anxiety and Stress
In addition to stimulating the body to pump out endorphins and pushing the mind into a more positive state, exercise allows you to offload tension and stress over the course of the workout. As with depression, the act of focusing on well-being in the moment helps to break out of the anxiety spiral and allows you to create mental distance in order to more effectively come up with solutions you can implement in your daily life to minimize sources of anxiety.
The same endorphins and chemicals released by exercise that improve mood and impact your thinking patterns also lend to sharpening the mind and the ability to stay focused. This helps with the creation of new brain cells and prevents decline in mental faculties.
How Much is Enough?
If exercise isn’t already a part of your daily or weekly routine, it’s important to start small. This helps to break through the thoughts or feelings that might be keeping you from starting. Make small, achievable goals that work well within your schedule that you can commit to in order to build up your confidence and routine. Once you’ve hit your stride, continue to set achievable goals that are challenging but aren’t confidence shattering if you happen to miss a workout session. And if you’re asking yourself what exercises you can turn to for improving mental health, the simple answer is anything that gets you up and moving, sweating, and focused on performing the physical activity. The physical benefits of better sleep and improved energy, as well as improved stamina and mental clarity, will all help to push you into a better state of mind.
Assisted Living Focused On All Aspects of Health and Wellness
As a provider of mental health services in Omaha and the surrounding metropolitan area, Hands of Heartland offers a number of assisted living, residential services, and community services for the surrounding community. In addition to these vital lifestyle services to help our clients achieve their employment and lifestyle goals, we coordinate community services and activities with our clients to ensure they stay active and involved with the community where they live. Ultimately, our events and activities are geared towards keeping our clients’ minds sharp and focused on how to improve their mental health, so that they remain positive and centered on their achievements instead of the challenges they might face. If you want to learn more about our services and community involvement centered on the mental well-being of our clients, contact our facilities for more information.