We’re all familiar with the variety of ways staying active can benefit our physical health – from maintaining a healthy weight to lowering the risk of certain diseases like diabetes, but physical activity has a whole host of benefits for your mental health as well!
At a time when it feels like everyone is struggling a little with their mental health, it’s important to remember just how powerful staying active can be in your overall well-being.
Here are some ways that staying active can benefit your mental health.
Helps Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Stress is something we can all relate to – whether you suffer from any other mental health concerns or not.
Stress in today’s society is something we’ve all experienced at one point or another – many of us even experience chronic stress.
Research has found that after physical activity the levels of stress hormones in your body are often lower.
So, whether it’s work, school or your home life that has you stressed out, physical activity – even a few minutes a day, can help train your body to better cope with stress.
Improves your Self-Esteem
Staying active has a positive impact on how we see ourselves.
Many of us can attest to feeling down about ourselves and our appearance when we experience periods of a more sedentary lifestyle such as during the winter months, and those can wreak havoc on our mental health.
Staying active can help us improve our self-esteem not just through changes to our appearance or weight, but research now suggests that self-esteem increases through physical exercise just due to the feeling we get that our body is improving because we’re exercising!
Sometimes our feeling of low self-esteem comes after experiencing an injury or chronic health condition, in these cases exercise can be even more beneficial but getting the help of a physiotherapist like those at COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES or other healthcare professionals is important.
Safely staying active should be your goal, and working with a physiotherapist can help you to modify exercise and focus on the areas that are most beneficial to you and your health.
Putting your health first can make a world of difference when it comes to your self-esteem!
Helps You Sleep Better & Maintain Energy Throughout the Day
If self-care has taught us anything it’s the importance of a good night’s sleep, and that’s especially true when it comes to our mental health.
Many people struggle with falling or staying asleep and/or have difficulty maintaining their energy throughout the day, this can be frustrating and result in a low mood.
If you struggle with getting things done throughout the day due to low energy and focus, don’t have it in you to chase your kids around like you’re used to or struggle to get a good night’s sleep, try incorporating just 15-30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise into your day.
This small amount of exercise (that’s barely a full show on Netflix, you got this!) can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep at night, improve overall sleep quality and help with maintaining energy levels throughout the day – no more mid-day naps to keep you going!
Ask for Help
While exercise is an evidence-based treatment that may be recommended for treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues its important that you are getting the support you need.
If an injury or chronic health condition is making it difficult for you to exercise, reach out to Cabot Physiotherapy or your local integrative health time for support.
There are safe and effective ways to modify exercise to suit your needs and condition.
Integrative healthcare teams are also a great resource as they often include therapy or psychological services for those that need professional support through their mental health care journey.
While staying physically active is a powerful tool in managing your mental health, in many cases we need a little additional support. It’s okay to ask for help.
It can be difficult, especially when you’re struggling with your mental health, to get the motivation to get up and move – some days it feels like a hurdle just to get up and get dressed in the morning.
That’s totally okay, meet yourself where you’re at.
However, working your way up to adding more exercise to your daily routine is an evidence-based, and easy way for you to take control of your mental health.
Hackney A. C. (2006). Stress and the neuroendocrine system: the role of exercise as a stressor and modifier of stress. Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism, 1(6), 783–792. https://doi.org/10.1586/174466188.8.131.523 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953272/
Zamani Sani, S. H., Fathirezaie, Z., Brand, S., Pühse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., Gerber, M., & Talepasand, S. (2016). Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2617–2625. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S116811
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf