A big reason that medical professionals recommend exercise for maintaining good health is because it benefits both the body and the mind. An increased heart rate, a focus on the present task, and a level of tired that can only be described as euphoric. Okay, that last one is a less common experience but we’ll get to that.
SO WHAT IS MENTAL WELLNESS?
It’s more than just the absence of a mental illness. It’s to be capable of dealing with life’s stressors and maintain a positive attitude towards life as well as take care of yourself. Just because your bills are paid and you’ve graduated from college doesn’t mean you’re happy with yourself. There’s work involved.
Exercise is one way to work on your mental wellness by building self esteem, keeping the body in working order, and instilling hope for the future. In other words, it’s a great mood elevator.
Mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder are defined by extremes highs or lows in mood or energy according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). They can be alleviated by exercise.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic work like a jog or fast walk or 75 minutes a week of more intense activity like running. These amounts are just the standard written many years ago but we can still apply them to mental health. You just need to move, get your heart rate up and do it consistently.
Studies don’t confirm exactly what is happening in the brain, but they all confirm that exercise elevates mood. Lower depression and anxiety rates proved that exercising consistently will help you battle any mood disorder or symptoms of such.
Having goals and planned workouts makes it easier to follow through with exercising. Group classes and various forms of exercise from yoga to weight lifting are all options to get in a work out. When you focus on a single task, no matter what it is, your mind can be self-aware in a stress-free environment. It’s the reason multi-tasking rarely works. If you spread yourself thin it’s hard to pay attention to details.
Even more so, if you set goals within your training or work outs, achieving them builds self-confidence. And that translates into positivity and confidence towards many different areas of your life. Imagine reaching that weight loss goal, or that heavy deadlift number you’ve been working towards. Super hero status!
Humans are social beings. And fitness can be as social as you like. Group classes will motivate you as you see everyone else working around you. Having a partner to spot you or cheer you on helps with courage and tenacity. The social aspect won’t take away from your seriousness towards your goals and will in fact, aid them.
WELL I’M NOT MENTALLY ILL SO…
Just because you’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible to its symptoms. We all feel stressed, or low, or irritable at times. Maybe you didn’t sleep well, or on the other side of the spectrum, you’re dealing with a loss of a loved one. Sadness and anxiety are common so of course you can benefit from these mental wellness tips.
Next time you workout, be mindful and present. Get the most out of your training and fitness by harnessing your mental wellness and making yourself a happier, more successful person along the way.