How Can Exercise Help My Mental Health?

It’s no secret that exercise is great for your health. We’ve all heard it before. Maybe your doctor’s said it, or your family has mentioned it, but someone somewhere has told you that exercise is the best medicine. Why, though? We know that exercise is great for your physical health but is that it?

Working out, whether walking, lifting weights, or swimming, does great things for you. It stretches your muscles, which increases flexibility, and releases fat cells, which reduces body weight. In many cases exercise has even been proven to help prevent various diseases and illnesses such as cancer or type 2 diabetes.

The benefits don’t stop at physical health though. Exercise has been shown time and time again to help improve an individual’s overall mental health. In numerous studies, participants displayed lower depression levels when they engaged in regular physical activity. Exercising was even shown to help prevent future depression.

What Are Endorphins?

The simple act of physical activity creates a ripple effect in which the body releases hormones called endorphins. Studies have shown that this release also improves stress and anxiety levels.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines endorphins as “one of several substances made in the body that can relieve pain and give a feeling of well-being.” They are “peptides (small proteins) that bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system” and are a type of neurotransmitter.

Endorphins are widely known as the body’s feel-good chemicals. The term “endorphin” comes from a combination of the words “endogenous morphine.” The word “endogenous” means that something comes from within. “Morphine” was chosen due to the opioid painkiller that endorphins mimic the effects of. Therefore, endorphins are pain-killing mood boosters that are made naturally within your body.

Endorphins can be released in the body through a variety of activities. Exercise, laughter, and sunlight exposure are just some of the many easily doable activities that release this feel-good hormone. Any form of exercise can produce endorphins, though sustainable low-intensity movement is often found to be best.

What Kinds of Exercise Should I Do?

You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. As long as you exercise on a regular basis, you can enjoy a long-term effect that improves your overall mind and body.

If you are not currently exercising, incorporating it into your routine may seem difficult but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, just walking at a moderate pace can get those endorphins flowing. This could be walking in your neighborhood, at a local park, or taking daily walks on the beach. It is a simple exercise that can greatly improve your mental health.

Hiking is another great exercise to release endorphins. Hiking can expose you to nature. The intensity level of hiking is higher than walking, thus resulting in a higher release. Biking or swimming are other leisurely and enjoyable methods of exercise. They don’t involve heavy lifting or high-intensity training but still leave you feeling better all around. Spending time in the water is also great for chronic pain, a leading cause of depression.

When incorporating exercise into your routine for the first time, try a variety of exercises to narrow down what’s best for you. Maybe biking is not for you. That’s okay! Try walking or swimming. If those don’t work, try core workouts, aerobics, or yoga. The options are endless in the world of exercise and physical activity.

When Should I Seek Help for My Mental Health?

There is no doubt that exercise can improve your mental health. However, some conditions may require more attention. If depression, anxiety, or other concerns are weighing you down and affecting your daily life, professional treatment can help. The right facility can help you get a proper diagnosis and provide you with a variety of treatment options such as inpatient mental health treatments  to choose from that suit your needs and lifestyle.

There are multiple treatment options available for the many common mental health disorders that may be of concern. Therapy is just one of them, and it can treat many conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress, and many others. In addition to therapy, your care team may prescribe certain medications for the management of your condition. Antidepressants and antianxiety medications are among the most common options in treating the aforementioned mental health concerns.

Seeking treatment gives you the right tools, guidance, and care to start your path toward better mental health. You can live a life free of anxiety and depression. You deserve to enjoy a life that’s full of happiness. Don’t let your mental health drag you down. Instead, reach out for help to achieve a strong and bright future with a positive and healthy mental state.

Exercise is an excellent addition to any routine and helps both the mind and the body. When facing conditions like depression, anxiety, or chronic stress, it is important to reach out for help. Treatment can greatly improve your quality of life and overall health. It can provide you with an anxiety-free and stress-free life without the challenges of depression. When you pair exercise and proper treatment together, you have a recipe for a significantly happier and healthier life. At Alter Behavioral Health, our mission is to help you achieve the level of happiness that you deserve. Don’t wait. Reach out to see how Alter can help you improve your overall health. Call us today at (866) 691-4386 to get started.