Exercise and mental health: the undoubted connection
Most of us embrace an active lifestyle in pursuit of a leaner, more muscular self whilst others look to improve various aspects of performance. Some spend hours in the gym each week in an attempt to be able to jump higher or run faster whilst others seek improved endurance capability or simply bigger numbers on the bench, deadlift and squat. There can be no denying that the majority of gym goers are looking for a stronger, leaner, more muscular body whilst profound health benefits resulting from a sound physical training routine are well documented. An active person is less likely to have to deal with health complications such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers whilst research is adding health benefits to this list every day. Additionally, active people are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis and a whole host of other degenerative disorders as they approach older age.
Put simply, it really does pay to hit the gym for a broad collection of reasons however, one of the slightly less eminent benefits of working out is mental health. Metal health can be one of those sensitive subjects where most people choose to disregard the issue altogether. Most people wouldn’t consider mental health to be something that directly affects them and would most likely think of stress, anxiety, mood swings and depression as minor problems that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Whilst we may well come up against varying levels of stress, anxiety and mood swings from time to time in our lives, these are all very real mental health issues which can spiral very quickly out of control for many people.
Research has proven that physical activity/exercise helps to maintain and improve wellbeing in a multitude of ways. Those suffering with mild depression were found to find some relief from their symptoms through the introduction of a physical training routine. Further studies have shown that an active lifestyle can also help to ward off anxiety. When we nail a difficult workout our body releases endorphins which most people will agree elevates mood significantly whilst others report that once exercise becomes routine we actually feel irritable and clouded without it. Some further thinking is that being active and regularly working out can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge. Ultimately, if people are able to achieve things in the gymnasium they thought they couldn’t, this state of mind starts to filter into other spheres of life such as career, relationships, finances and the ability to be able to deal with stress. We all know just how important sleep is for us in order to feel energized throughout the entire day whilst being able to concentrate on difficult tasks and apply ourselves correctly to each event we choose to engage. Those who prioritize an effective and intelligent training routine into their lives find that quality and quantity of sleep is improved leading to a pattern of good nights and even better mornings. Sleep is the great healer especially where mental health is concerned as this is where we grow and repair both our bodies and minds. Evidence has also suggested that those who fail to get adequate sleep each night have trouble with short term memory, crave sugary and fatty foods more and struggle to concentrate on complex tasks.
There are numerous ways to deal with mental health issues however, exercise and physical activity sit high up on the list and remember, prevention is far better than cure. Keep active and stay happy.