Why regular physical activity is critical to your mental health

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Why regular physical activity is critical to your mental health

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 Why regular physical activity is critical to your mental health
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Although the benefits of regular exercise are well-established, most people find it hard to accomplish. Yet, time and again, experts have emphasized the importance of everyday workouts to your physical and mental health.

According to 2019 data of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five American adults had a mental illness at the time, highlighting the magnitude of the problem.

Regular exercise, thus, is vital to keep your body and the mind fit, which once more underpins the age-old maxim that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.

Indeed, the list of benefits is endless: exercise helps control body weight, boost energy, promotes better sleep, improves metabolism, fight diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, depression, and anxiety. No wonder experts categorize these conditions in various groups. For instance, anxiety is associated with constant worry, fear, and stress; depression is linked to fatigue, frequent mood swings, and sadness; and schizophrenia relates to chronic mental disorder.

Other mental health problems could be substance use, bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders.   


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Exercise keeps mental health in check

Exercise or any regular physical activity is an effective and cheap way to tackle most mental and physical health problems. For example, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), exercise is the third most significant alternative for treating depression after psychotherapy and medication.

Psychologists opine that exercise acts as an antidepressant both in the short-term and long-term for the human body. Since, after gleaning through a vast repository of studies on depression and exercise, they found that while workouts helped reduce depression in most people, it was most effective for those who lacked physical activity or lived in unhealthiest conditions.

 

Source: Pixabay.

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They also found that exercise proved an effective antidepressant for both genders. Additionally, both anaerobic and aerobic exercises could help reduce depression to some degree. The larger the number of exercise sessions, the more significant the decrease in depression, they noted. They concluded that a combination of exercise and psychotherapy helps treat mental health issues.

Finally, the findings underscore the power of exercise in treating or keeping mental health problems at bay. Psychologists, who participated in a meta-analysis of various depression and exercise related studies in the 1990s, confirmed that exercise did help decrease problems like anxiety, low self-esteem, high body weight, addiction, etc. It also helped improve the brain's cognitive functioning.

So, exercise is not just good for your body but for your head too!

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