7 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise That You Need To Know

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7 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise That You Need To Know

Health Benefits of Exercise

Research shows that every year, 20 percent of Australians are diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression. According to another research, almost 50 percent of Australians have experienced a mental health issue during their life.

That’s a lot to deal with.

While there are many ways to handle mental health issues, one solution that is always recommended by doctors and health care professionals is working out. While the physical health benefits of exercise are well-known and common, have you ever thought about how exercise affects your mental health?

Read on to find out more!

What Is Mental Health and Why Is It Important?

According to the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, mental health is the psychological well-being of a person that allows them to deal with life’s ups and downs. This can include coping with an individual’s personal and professional life, dealing with relationships, and contributing to the wider community.

Mental health can affect our lives in many situations, such as:

  • Our mood, confidence, and self-esteem
  • Our communication and interpersonal skills
  • Our cognitive function and problem-solving ability
  • Our focus and concentration
  • Our eating and sleeping habits
  • Our full potential and purpose in life

Even if mental health does not seem like a big deal, it is just as important as physical well-being, if not more. It dominates our ability to think, communicate, and make decisions. It builds our confidence and resilience and is a key factor in building meaningful relationships in our lives.

Why Is Exercise Recommended for Mental Health?

Exercise for Mental Health

People have a lot of reasons for working out. They might want to get fit, lose weight, strengthen their bones, or boost their immunity system. But for some people, opting for physical activity is an essential lifestyle change because it increases their energy levels or reduces their depression or anxiety symptoms. They feel motivated during the day, sleep better at night, and have an improved attention span.

But does exercise really affect our mental health? Let’s find out!

Reason # 1 Better Sleep

We all know how terrible we feel after one “bad” night’s sleep. We’re grumpy and annoyed, and we just do not want to deal with the world. Imagine having such nights multiple times a week!

Insomnia and sleep apnea can be extremely concerning and are even linked to mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Regular exercise assists in improving sleep quality, which in turn produces hormones in our body that make us feel good when we wake up in the morning.

A moderate amount of exercise every day can regulate sleeping patterns and allow for more deep sleep during the night. A healthy night’s sleep is essential for healthy brain function and allows us to be fresh throughout the day.

Prefer to exercise right before going to bed? Instead of opting for intense exercises like HIIT, try doing yoga or stretching to stimulate sleep.

Reason # 2 Reduces Depression and Anxiety

Physical exercise, such as walking, running, and swimming, is known to be a depression reliever. It releases endorphins, which assist in reducing inflammation, promoting motivation and positivity, and allowing you to feel good all day.

Moderate exercise can also be an effective way to treat anxiety. The endorphins produced during exercise relieve tension, enhance your mood, and boost your physical and mental energy.

Reason # 3 Better Energy Levels

Do you feel slow and sleepy in the morning unless you have had two cups of coffee? Skip the caffeine and do some yoga or stretching exercises. You will observe a significant reduction in that feeling of sluggishness that you feel when you wake up. If you’re looking for an energy burst, you can take a walk or go running. Once you’re done, you will be able to notice your hiked energy levels yourself.

Endorphins released during exercise are not only known to treat anxiety and depression; they are a big factor in enabling you to feel happy and positive.

A recent study also shows that regular physical exercise also reduced the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reason # 4 Improves Physical Health

People tend to separate physical health from mental health even though they’re both interlinked. Knowing that we are physically well will always do wonders for our mental health. Why? Because we know that everything is going well in our system.

Exercise does not only help you lose weight; it strengthens your bones, improves your stamina, and allows you to be more active throughout the day. Regular exercise can also prevent heart issues, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and is even known to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If that’s not enough reason to get up and get your body moving, physical activity also plays a vital role in improving your cardiovascular health, enabling it to send more oxygen into your body. This process will strengthen your heart and lungs and reduce the risk of fatal diseases.

Reason # 5 Boosts Mood and Confidence

Due to the release of endorphins, physical activity has been known to boost confidence and help us feel good about ourselves.

Are you tired of feeling sad and grumpy all day? Do you have self-esteem issues? Try and get some exercise during the day to boost your confidence and feel good about yourself. Taking some time out to get your body moving will not only improve your quality of life but will also motivate you to take a more positive and confident approach to life.

Reason # 6 Releases Stress

How does the human body react under mental stress? Your muscles tense and go stiff, and your body goes into a “fight or flight” mode. You might even feel that your chest is going to explode. During all this time, your brain is working overtime to try and get you out of it.

We have all experienced stress at some point in our lives. It could be because of our grades, our jobs, our relationships, or due to events happening around the world. Experiencing stress at certain times is normal but when you start to stress out about everything happening in your life, it’s time to make a change.

Most therapists and other health care professionals recommend exercise as the first course of action to deal with stress. Physical activity reduces stress hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol, protecting your body from stressing out further.

Reason # 7 Improves Cognitive Function

Are you having trouble focusing on the smallest of tasks? Is your anxiety or depression not allowing you to think clearly? Start doing physical activity regularly and see the difference for yourself.

Research shows that exercise improves concentration and focus in the short term. Regular physical activity can fight brain aging and prevent a lot of neuro diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, by improving blood flow to the brain. It also assists in enhancing memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.

Can You Exercise While Taking Prescription Pills?

Working out with a mental health condition is a challenge in itself. Add to it the complexity of a prescription pill and you will realize how certain drugs can be extremely harmful for your workout. Here are some anti-anxiety drugs that can negatively impact your exercise session:

1. SSRIs—These are used to treat depression and are known to cause drowsiness and sluggishness. SSRIs can also cause dehydration so make sure you have a water bottle handy during your sweat session

2. Benzodiazepines—Another medication used to treat anxiety is benzodiazepines like Xanax. Side effects of taking this drug include low energy levels and fatigue therefore it is recommended to exercise before taking this medication to minimize its effect

3. Stimulants—Stimulants can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, therefore doctors recommend doing physical activity before taking the medication

4. Sleeping pills—Since the effect of a sleeping pill can seep into the next day, consider doing your workout later in the day to avoid being slow and uncoordinated during the session

Amount of Physical Exercise Recommended Per Day

Physical Exercise

Check out the table below to see the list of recommended physical activity requirements according to the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care:

Age Recommended Physical Activity Recommended times of Physical Activity per week
Under 12 months 30 minutes of tummy time Every day
1 to 2 years 3 hours of energetic play Every day
3 to 5 years 3 hours of play with 1 hour of energetic play Every day
5 to 17 years 1-3 hours of moderate to intense activity At least 3 days a week
18 to 64 years 30-60 minutes of moderate activity/15-30 minutes of vigorous activity At least 2 days a week
65 years and above 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week
Pregnancy 30-60 minutes of moderate activity/15-30 minutes of vigorous activity At least 2 days a week

You don’t need to spend all day in the gym or swim for hours to be rewarded with the benefits of physical activity. Start with low-impact or moderate exercises for 30 minutes a day.

Taking time out for exercise in this fast-paced world can be difficult. If you’re unable to take out 30 minutes or have trouble building your stamina, consider starting with 10-minute exercise sessions. Once you have built your stamina, you can start increasing your workout time by 5 minutes per day until you are up to at least 30 minutes.

The important part is to commit to doing some form of physical activity most days of the week and tailoring it according to your stamina and fitness level.

In case of health concerns, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to confirm what form of physical activity would suit you best. Here is a list of the things you need to ask:

  1. Type of physical activity
  2. Duration of workout
  3. Number of days of exercise
  4. Intensity level
  5. Ways to keep on track

How To Get Started With Physical Activity

Do you want to get into an exercise routine but don’t know where to start? Below are a few suggestions of how you can incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine:

  • Wear a fitness tracker and set a goal of completing a certain number of steps per day
  • Start small and build your activity up slowly
  • Try different activities to avoid getting bored
  • Ask a friend or family member to join you in your physical activity
  • Select an exercise that is doable and that you will enjoy doing
  • Avoid thinking of exercise as a chore

Exercise does not only have to be running, jogging, or cycling. It can also include completing chores and running errands, such as:

  1. Going to the supermarket to get groceries or other household items
  2. Mowing the lawn or doing gardening activities
  3. Completing household chores, including washing dishes, doing laundry, or ironing clothes
  4. Cleaning and mopping the floor
  5. Wiping windows and scrubbing bathrooms
  6. Taking your pet for a walk
  7. Washing your bike or car

What Workout Options Do I Have?

If you want to get into a proper exercise routine, here are a few options that you can consider:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Tennis
  • Strength training
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Aerobics
  • Weight training

If you’re starting from scratch, make sure to not do too much at a time. Starting with intense activities can tire you out quicker, leading to injuries and demotivation. Start with making simple changes to your daily routine and incorporating more physical activities into your life. Take the stairs when you can. Take a walk when you’re on the phone. If the grocery store is nearby, walk over or take your bicycle. Get off the bus one station earlier and walk the way home.

Improve Your Mental and Physical Health With Trojan Fitness

Mental and Physical Health

If you want to incorporate a fitness routine, the first thing you need to remember is to be consistent. Set aside a specific time every day for exercise, whether at home or outside. You can find gym equipment online that you can easily set up in your home. With the right equipment, you can stay active and prioritize your physical and mental health every day. Explore our website to find the best solutions for your workout needs.

Have a busy schedule and don’t know how to fit a gym visit into it? Check out our home fitness solutions designed to be your at-home gym without any costly membership fees. We prioritize your physical and mental well-being by offering you top-quality gym equipment that is catered to your specific requirements.

Make your mental and physical health a priority with Trojan Fitness!

The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or medical advice. We make every effort to ensure the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. Always consult a qualified professional before making any significant changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle. We are not responsible for any adverse consequences resulting from the use of, or reliance on, any information provided on this website.