We are all aware of the benefits of proper exercise on the health of our body. We know it tones our muscles, burns fat, helps circulation, and reduces our disease risk. But what about the benefits exercise has on our mental health?
While the majority of fitness research efforts focus on the physical and health benefits of exercise, there is a growing body of work demonstrating that exercise promotes mental and emotional health as well.
Firstly exercise makes you feel good. When you exercise (with some effort of course) there are a cocktail of hormones released that stay in your system for some time after you finish lifting your mood and banishing any trace of any negative feelings.
Some of the exercise benefits that can make life so much better are:
o By reducing stress hormones (cortisol), which are linked to depression
o By restoring sleeping and eating patterns, raising energy levels
o By releasing endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones
o Getting in better physical shape improves self-esteem
o Manage feelings of anxiety, sadness, tension and anger
o Improves blood flow to brain, cut Alzheimer’s risk by 40 percent
o Great alternative treatment for depression
Our mental health is important and its health does not lie with taking antidepressants. Prescriptions for antidepressants have increased by 33 per cent in the last six years with a third of the adult population taking a mood altering drug. Yet research shows that physical activity has the same effect as chemically addictive antidepressants and unlike these drugs has no negative side effects.
It is so much better for your health to avoid using drugs if possible as they can interfere with brain biochemistry. Our knowledge of how drugs affect the brain is in its infancy.
Proper exercise will give you an instant feel good boost, unlike drugs that can take weeks to kick in.
It gives cause for concern when doctors are so freely writing out prescriptions for these unnecessary drugs. The same prescription pad could be used for a much healthier alternative – exercise. But then there would not be any money to be made with a recommendation like that.
Attitudes need to change so that people take some responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and stop being doctor and drug dependent. There are much healthier options available that address the cause of the problem not just mask it, and that is exercise.
Take some time out for a proper exercise program and discover how you can feel joy and pleasure just being in your own body. Don’t say no to exercise say no to something else.
Exercise is not a task or punishment and vigorous movement is something the human body needs to maintain wellness and can be viewed as a preventative that can help prevent physical, mental and emotional conditions.
You don’t have to spend hours to gain these benefits; just a couple of sessions each week of strength training exercise will make you feel fantastic. Just make sure you get some help from a fitness professional so you can be reaping the most benefits from your program and enjoy life to the fullest.
Carolyn Hansen is a certified fitness expert and fitness center owner who coaches clients to look and feel younger. In her nearly 30 years of fitness and bodybuilding competition experience she has helped thousands of people start their journey towards being strong, fit and youthful at any age. Fitness coach