Exercise isn’t just about physical endurance, muscle size, or losing weight, even though movement will improve your sex life, waistline, and life expectancy. By staying active, you can also improve your mental well-being and symptoms of several mental illnesses and disorders.
How to Stay Motivated to Exercise
A lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, making it hard for you to develop a consistent workout routine. Self-doubt, avoidance, discomfort, and poor goal setting are other reasons why it can be challenging to exercise.
However, practicing self-care can keep you motivated. Make sure to drink plenty of water, sleep 8 hours a night, and avoid unhealthy habits, like eating and drinking. Make time for leisure, fun, and socializing with friends or by joining an online fitness community, like Physeek.Fit.
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Regular exercise can improve your outlook on life, increase your energy levels, and promote healthy habits. But, most importantly, it can decrease symptoms of mood or trauma disorders.
How Exercises Alleviates Depression Symptoms
Depression is a common and severe mental illness that shrinks specific regions of the brain and inflames others. As depression affects the brain, neurons in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortices, and thalamus shrink, which lead to memory loss, brain fog, and other symptoms.
Coupled with an inflamed amygdala and reduced oxygen levels, the brain undergoes a lot of stress when you’re depressed. Exercise can release endorphins that make your brain and body feel great, which takes the pressure off of the locations in your brain that are affected the most.
How Exercises Alleviates Stress Symptoms
Stress is like a mild, nagging anxiety attack that typically doesn’t accompany hyperventilation, but it can. When we’re stressed, cortisol and adrenaline are released. These two hormones prepare our body for “battle” by tightening up our muscles and raising our blood pressure.
Prolonged stress can severely affect our physical and mental health, but exercise can release endorphins in your brain, relax muscles, and relieve excess tension from your body.
How Exercises Alleviates Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety is your mind and body’s reaction to dangerous, stressful, or unfamiliar situations. A certain level of anxiety is normal, but if you feel anxious daily, you’ll start to become hyperactive to threats (real or imagined), which trains your brain to hold on to negative memories.
During an anxiety attack, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which makes it difficult for us to think rationally. Exercise is a healthy coping mechanism for anxiety because it helps our minds focus on something else. It also boosts your self-confidence and social skills.
How Exercises Alleviates ADHD SymptomsADHD is associated with low levels of neurotransmitters like noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine transmitting between the basal ganglia and prefrontal cortical area. This causes the brain to be in a prolonged depressive state, which causes most common ADHD symptoms.
Exercise can boost the stores of these neurotransmitters in the brain, which help to improve focus. However, exercise shouldn’t be used as a substitute for medication in extreme cases.
How Exercises Alleviates PTSD Symptoms
PTSD and other traumatic episodes cause your brain to get stuck in danger mode. The amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates mood and fear, is more active in people with PTSD. Over time, PTSD can cause the hippocampus, the area that controls memory, to shrink.
Exercise can help your brain become “unstuck” by moving out of the immobilized stress response. People with PTSD should focus on how their body is feeling during exercise, as it can help reduce symptoms faster. Speak to a doctor to get further support for trauma and PTSD.