The Effect of Exercise on Mental Illness
One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. If you have had a prolonged feeling of either being worried or nervous, dealing with anxiety, finding it hard to cope with managing things or dealing with stress, or have found yourself not interested in doing things and have long spells of low mood, so dealing with depression. In some cases, these feelings can last for more than a few days and can become very debilitating. If you have been living this for a while then you may have had a clinical diagnosis for a mental health condition and might be medicated in an attempt to help stabilize your symptoms.
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. One will affect the another. Someone’s mental well-being can diminish if they fall physically ill and likewise someone’s physical health will diminish if their mind is in a bad place. This particular client group finds it most challenging to not only start but also sustain an exercise routine because of the effects that their mental health has on their decision-making.
The good news is that exercise has been proven to help manage stress, anxiety, and depression as well as a host of other mental health issues. It helps improve your quality of sleep by making you feel more tired. It improves your mood, so you feel happier by releasing endorphins, so you feel better about yourself and have more energy. Exercise also releases cortisol which helps manage stress. So, it can be a positive coping strategy for more challenging times. It can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression, and it can connect you with other people so that you can meet new friends.
Exercise can also be seen as a release from everyday stresses. It allows one to focus on something they can control, give them some time out from their day-to-day issues, and also improve their physical health.
What Exercise is Best?
Any exercise will be beneficial. Just ensure first that you feel ready to start something because if you’re feeling real and well it might be the wrong time to start, even if you’re aware of what the rewards will bring. It can be easy to feel guilty from the north starting and that can exacerbate the issue. so first figure out what is best for you.
Once you’ve decided to give exercise a go, you’ll find that there are so many more opportunities today to be more active than maybe 15 to 20 years ago. Much of this change is attributed to technology and the Internet where you can follow along to a home exercise video, at a time of your choosing and in the comfort of your own home. Anything that gets you up and moving can help and here are some ideas:
- Walking, either as a part of a group or even if it’s just to the shops,
- Stretching while watching TV,
- Doing a home exercise or a yoga DVD,
- Completing household chores or DIY,
- Dancing to your favorite music,
- Playing games in the park with a friend or family member,
- Volunteering on outdoor-based projects like conservation or wildlife,
- Trying out a sport at a local club,
- Exercise classes swimming or the gym.
More important than anything else is to choose an activity that you know you will enjoy. This is paramount to sustained adherence but also choose something that you can realistically fit into your lifestyle. Don’t choose to start rock climbing if the nearest venue is one hour away as this puts an additional barrier to starting and will make it more difficult to keep it up. Here are five tips that will make you get going:
- Start small. Just doing a little initially is better than throwing yourself in at the deep end and trying to do 5 exercise sessions a week.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Know your triggers.
- Find things that help.
- Celebrate your achievements.
If you’re taking any medications for your mental health condition, it’s worth noting that some can cause you side effects that might affect your physical activity. So, exercising may feel more brutal. Physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory infection may lead to other guidance and considerations about your exercise choices. So, it’s worth looking into that too if this affects you.
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