How Fitness can Help with Mental Health

Although many people look at exercise for improving their physical ability, there are others who look at it to help with their mental state. Exercise is looked at mainly to help with your physical physiques, this being getting stronger, staying fit or weight loss, but exercise also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood. There are many reasons why exercise can help with your mental health. The main reason is because when you exercise your body releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that make you feel better and improve your mood. Exercise can also help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation because it can put you in touch with other people.

Almost half the total population (45.5%) experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime.

Some main mental health issues that are well known are anxiety and depression. There are 26.3% of Australians aged 16 to 85 who have experienced an anxiety disorder, which is equivalent to 4.96 million people today, and 15% of people aged 16-21 are experiencing depression. Overall In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.

Anxiety is known to someone who is experiencing stress or having the feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. People have an anxiety disorder when this goes on or interferes with their life for more than 6 months. A study that was taken of people who suffer from anxiety shows that they tend to not want to go out and exercise, they would rather do less physical activity and sit down. What they don’t
know is that exercise is known to be a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It is known to relieve tension and stress, boost physical and mental energy, and increase overall well-being. Research shows that anything that gets you moving can help but paying attention instead of zoning out will give a bigger benefit. Engaging in exercise is a way that helps you ease your anxiety because it distracts you from the thing that you were anxious about, the moving of your body decreases muscle tension, getting your heart rate up changes brain chemistry, and because it increases the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals.

Any type of exercise from tai chi to high intensity interval training is helpful but studies and research have proven that aerobic exercise is especially helpful. The importance about exercise is that its needs to become regular for maximum benefit. A simple bike ride, dance class, yoga class, slight jog or even a brisk walk can be something super handy and powerful for those suffering from chronic anxiety. This can also be very helpful to those who are feeling overly nervous and anxious about an upcoming test, important selections coming up, a big presentation, an important meeting and so on.

Depression is known as a mood that you have. Instead of the feeling of fear, depression makes you feel sad and lonely, it affects how you feel, think and behave, and can lead you to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Just like anxiety exercise is a natural and effective anti-depressant treatment. It is proven that regular exercise may increase a neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, the level of brain serotonin, sleep, appetite and other functions. Regular exercise can also change some symptoms you get when you have depression, for example, it can increase energy levels, improve sleep, distract you from worries you may have, increase a sense of control and selfesteem and help their wellbeing. Research shows that 16 weeks of regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant medication (this for a treatment of mild to moderate depression, not severe). In a recent study it was also found that an increase of exercise from irregular exercise to three times a week resulted in a 20% decrease of the risk of depression over a five-year period. Just like anxiety exercise doesn’t need to be hard for it to be helpful, for example, it only needs to be a brisk walk each day.

Written by Chloe Reilly