Everyone knows that exercise is good for your physical health. Did you know it’s also good for your mental health?
Discussions about mental health are happening more and more frequently, particularly since surveys following the COVID-19 pandemic revealed increased mental health challenges among Americans.
One of the best things that you can do for overall mental health is to take care of your physical health. Studies consistently show that exercise can reduce stress and improve both physical and mental health. You can put this link between movement and mental health to work for you in your everyday life.
Some Mental Health Facts
According to Mental Health America (MHA), “46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.” Mental health struggles are just as common as some physical health struggles, but people typically don’t talk about them as much.
Anxiety and depression are among the most reported mental health struggles. Anxiety disorders affect over 21% of adults each year (MHA “Anxiety”). Depression impacts over 8% of adults each year and, though it is highly treatable, only about 1/3 of those affected seek treatment (MHA “Depression”).
Treatment for common mental health conditions such as anxiety often includes a combination of therapy, medication, support groups, and/or lifestyle changes like increased exercise (MHA “Anxiety”). Though exercise can be a big help, if you’re struggling with mental health concerns it’s always good to speak with a qualified professional and get their assistance as well.
Benefits of Exercise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are few other things you can do that have as big of a positive impact on your health as exercise does (CDC “Benefits of Physical Activity”). Immediate benefits include reduced short-term anxiety and improved thinking skills. Regular activity can also reduce anxiety and depression, and help you sleep better.
Multiple studies illustrate the link between exercise and mental health. For example, exercise improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, and relieves symptoms of “low self-esteem and social withdrawal” (Sharma, Madaan, & Frederick, 2006, “Exercise for Mental Health”). Exercise can have a big impact on mood and health, even if you aren’t currently struggling with a diagnosable mental health condition.
Get To the Gym!
Studies show that you can get mental health benefits from a variety of exercises, including walking, running, yoga, and gym-based exercises (Harvard, “How simply moving benefits your mental health”). If you’re working out at a gym, you’ll also get mood benefits from socializing with others, particularly if you sign up for a group class.
A mental health professional might recommend specific types of physical activity for specific people. In general, though, the type of activity doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re getting exercise. You can talk with one of our trainers to develop a fitness plan that matches your personal goals and needs. Contact us today to set up a gym visit and free fitness evaluation.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, and the content is no substitute for direct advice from a qualified healthcare professional. If you have concerns about your mental or physical health, please discuss them with your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing an emergency, please contact emergency services.