Exercise and Your Mental Health


Have you seen the heated debates on blogs and forums? Seems like every time you turn around, there’s another discussion popping up about the mental and physical benefits of exercise.

And Wow, do people get passionate about their stance. I’m talking about people on both sides of the argument- otherwise rational people- who will suddenly jump up and tie their workout shoe, wear the sport wears and stomp their feet over this discussion.

Some say exercise is only god for its physical benefit, but others-mostly chiropractors and psychologists argue for its mental and emotional advantages. Regardless of who you support, both are right.

Does Exercise really have any mental health benefit?

I’m sure you are familiar with the common saying that exercising helps you lose weight and gain energy. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercising helps to reshape your physical appearance. But there are other benefits including mental health, that one can gain from exercising. This can be a life-changing task for people who desire changes in lifestyle that improve their health.

The mental health benefits of exercising shouldn’t and can’t be overestimated, no matter how much you hate jogging or heading to the gym. Most people see exercise as a boring activity (some even call it a chore) that they prefer wasting 30 minutes on the couch to exercising. Using that little time to exercise doesn’t only get you physically fit but also improve your mental health. Let me explain.

Most chiropractors often recommend exercise to increase strength and endurance, but less emphasis is placed on its mental health benefit and much, even much less effort is directed to translating this awareness into action.

Chiropractors are still working on the connection of such action to mental and emotional health; Why is it difficult for you, despite all the benefits, to hit the gym or participate in a morning jog? How much exercise is needed for this blood-sugar lowering and metabolism-boosting activity? But as these benefits pile up, it’s becoming impossible to ignore the discussion on mental health and exercise.

Exercise enhances your mood

If you ever need to relax after a stressful day, chances are you will feel better if you engage in some type of aerobic activity like brisk jogging or weight training. The relationship between mood and exercise is pretty strong, and you do not even need an intense workout to enjoy the mood enhancement benefits. Studies have shown that physical exercise stimulates the release of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain – the ‘feel good hormones’. This in turn allows you to feel relaxed. Unsurprisingly, the effects of exercise extend beyond what can be felt immediately.

A study from Duke University shows that physical activity can also help address long-term depression. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, try to focus on outdoor workouts in an inclusive environment. Do this with moderate intensity with clear goals. You will notice that your exercise session brings more benefits to your emotional and mental well-being as it does for your physical health.

It Energizes the Brain and Improves Productivity

Feeling tired by 12 pm? Regular exercise serves as brainpower and will surely improve your productivity. Physical activity sends nutrients and oxygen to your tissues, which in turn enables your cardiovascular system to operate more effectively and efficiently. You have more energy to carry out your daily task when your lungs and heart work better. Therefore, moving your muscles adds more fuel to your engine.

Reduces Stress, Prevents and Fights Illness

When something that upsets our balance or threatens our mood occurs, our body’s defense mechanism is alerted and then creates a stress response. This makes us feel uncomfortable as we may experience emotions from physical symptoms more intensely.

Sleeping problem is one of the most common signs of stress, but this may be accompanied by loss of appetite and sweating. Fight or flight response, as it is commonly called, trigger these types of symptoms by an array of stress hormones. It is the noradrenaline and adrenaline hormones that lowers the activity in our stomach, increase the heart rate and decreases blood flow.

Regular exercise decreases the number of stress hormones released by your body. Setting your body in motion, in this case, helps you feel calmer. In fact, some physical activities slow down both heart rate and blood pressure.

Starting to exercise your body can be a daunting task, but the immediate effects are noticeable. As a professional chiropractor, we are here to keep you moving and help with your physical and mental health.