Fitness Blog

Exercise and Mental Health

We are all being educated in this day and age that mental health is a common problem, and a real illness, as real as a broken leg or disease. Mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, are becoming a regular occurrence in most households now, and we need to know how to deal with our hormones and look after ourselves to gain control again.

Everyone knows that exercise is good for the body. It increases our strength and flexibility, improves our heart and lungs, strengthens bones and joints; the list is endless. However, we need to also learn that exercise is great for the mind.

exercise

Hormones

Our hormones affect everything we do, and everything we are. From our weight and mood, to our willpower and appearance. When we become stressed, stress hormones are released, causing problems to individuals, such as: trouble sleeping, affected appetite and affected energy levels. Stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol are released, meaning adrenaline is pumped around our body to allow us to cope with the stressful situation. This raises our blood pressure and our heart rate. The reason this happens is to protect us: to allow us to run from a dangerous situation, gain strength we didn't know we had. The reason is to keep us safe. However, in this day and age, people are getting this 'fight or flight' adrenaline rush button, left on. We forget to unwind from stressful situations.

Exercise can release endorphins, this feel good hormone, which you have likely heard of. Endorphins combat stress hormones very effectively, stabilising our mood and our energy levels, stabilising our weight, and therefore, making us feel better. More regular exercise, means improved mental health.

Dementia

Dementia and cognitive decline in older people is becoming a growing problem, due to more people living longer lives, due to improved healthcare. We have learned how to make our bodies survive longer, and now we are learning how to keep our mind going too.

Keeping active as we age can help to slow the onset of both of these mental health problems, delaying the decline, even after it has begun, if you are choosing only to begin exercising later on in your life. Keeping your mind active and your body too, helps to keep you fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. From walking to swimming, yoga to football; choose your ideal sport, and reap the benefits.

How Much?

Obviously, the amount of exercise you do could depend on your current fitness levels, as you don't want to do too much too soon. However, the guidelines for an average adult is 30 minutes moderate exercise, 5 times per week. This is less daunting than it may initially sound. You can break the workouts up into smaller chunks if necessary, and keep things simple. Start with a local walk, perhaps with friends, to encourage social interaction too. Socialising is also great for your well being. Within a very short space of time, you will feel the difference on your mood and mental health, and you'll be pleased you made the changes. In time, you be even be looking into personal training for that extra physical and mental boost.

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