Regular physical activity improves mental health in a variety of ways. It can relieve anxiety and depression and boost self-esteem. Exercise can also help people sleep better.
The American Psychiatric Association defines mental health as “the ability to function in daily activities despite challenges”. Exercise is one of the American Psychiatric Association’s core recommendations for improving mental health. Studies have found that exercise can reduce the severity of depression and anxiety and improve cognitive function. However, it’s not as simple as simply jogging around the neighborhood or doing push-ups.
There’s no doubt that exercise improves physical and mental health, and that it is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. While the evidence for its positive effects on mental and emotional wellbeing is strong, researchers are still trying to unlock the mystery. In fact, it may take a few years of research to fully understand its mechanisms.
According to the American Heart Association, regular physical activity has been shown to have a number of benefits on the mind and body. Physical activity has been linked to increased feelings of self-esteem, better sleep, and reduced anxiety. And, for those who aren’t so physically fit, it can provide a sense of accomplishment that can alleviate stress.
Several studies have found that moderate to vigorous intensity exercises can have a positive impact on mood. Some of the most popular types of physical activities for mental health include brisk walking, yoga, cycling, and team sports.
A 2006 meta-analysis conducted by a team of psychologists found that exercise is a valuable tool for combating a range of mental health conditions. The researchers surveyed 1.2 million adults who took part in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. They found that those who participated in aerobic exercise showed lower depression symptoms.
Exercise is also shown to improve social interactions and enhance self-esteem. One study showed that tertiary students who regularly engaged in exercise exhibited a reduction in depression-like symptoms. This study was designed to test whether a single bout of physical activity could improve mood states in the context of a stressful task.
Another study showed that a more modest amount of physical activity, 10 minutes a day, could significantly improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The study, which involved 80 participants, divided them into five groups, each of which did a different type of physical activity.
For those looking to incorporate exercise into their daily routines, a good place to start is to set attainable goals. Set yourself a time of day that will be convenient for you, and then find an activity you’ll enjoy.
If you are struggling with a mental health condition, it’s important to talk to your doctor before committing to a new exercise regimen. He or she can advise you on the right type of workout for you and suggest a range of options. Also, if you are having trouble motivating yourself, working out with a personal trainer can help.
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