Exercise for Mental Health
From stress to anxiety to low self-esteem and depression, exercise can contribute to the alleviation of symptoms, promote a mood boost, and improve self-esteem.
While exercise is beneficial for our physical health, it also directly impacts the brain; encouraging the release of endorphins to provide a boost in mood, reduction in anxiety levels, a boost in self esteem and an overall improvement in mental well-being.
Bringing exercise into your everyday can help create structure and routine. Beginning the day with the exercise of your choice is a positive way of starting your day, as the endorphin-release can create a positive mindset, ready to start the day.
When we talk about exercise, we normally think of medium to high intensity activity that gets our heart racing and our head sweating… but to get the mental health benefits from exercise, it has been recommended by experts, professionals, and doctors, that you need to engage in a minimum of 10 minutes of movement. This can be any movement, big or small, and the benefits will vary based on the exercise you engage in.
For example, mindful movement exercises, like yoga and meditation, can help you to take a time out and slow down; using deep breathing techniques and slow body movements, which can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Engaging in more intense exercise may increase confidence levels and provide a self-esteem boost. This might be from a large release of endorphins or from reaching goals you have set out for yourself.
Movement doesn’t have to involve getting into a gym outfit, lifting weights or getting the yoga mat out. A 10-minute exercise can be hoovering or carrying the laundry up the stairs in sections. The idea of exercise for mental health is to get our body moving, our muscles working and endorphins flowing!
Ideas to get you started:
- Set yourself reasonable goals
- Keep an exercise journal
- Drink enough water
- Prepare for challenges and obstacles
- Praise yourself
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise to make sure it's safe, and to see what intensity level is okay for you. Your doctor can take into consideration medication and health conditions.
Exercise/movement alone isn't a cure for mental health problems, but can be an effective strategy for the alleviation of symptoms, and for boosting mood.
The Disruptive Power of Exercise with Dr. Wendy Suzuki - Tedx Talk on YouTube
What happens inside your body when you exercise - British Heart Foundation on YouTube