At a time when technology has radically taken up considerable space in our lives, people are finding it more and more challenging to be mentally healthy. In fact, a study out of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden found that stress and heavy technology use are linked, the physical and mental health linkage. In their findings, they asserted that the more frequent users of laptop computers and mobile phones reported more sleeping issues, as well as depressive symptoms.
There are several reasons that may explain the association, between mental and physical fitness, from the biochemical to the sociological; but what is important is that we recognize the issue, and we do something about it. As such, it is important that we proactively pursue measures that are geared at ensuring our well-being; and one of the best things we can turn to, where that is concerned, is exercise.
The Connection Between Exercise and Mental Health
According to a later published on the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, exercise is known to decrease anxiety and depression, while improving symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal. One reason for this is that it is believed that increased blood circulation to the brain that is brought about by exercise positively impacts the communication between our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the regions in the brain that dictate mood and motivation, reactions to stress, and memory formation.
Why is this so, and how does exercise bring about such changes? Lets take a look:
What Happens Inside Our Brain When We Exercise
Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in our brain that makes us happy, according to science. What happens exactly is that when we start exercising, our brain perceives it as a stressful moment, and our brain responds by releasing a protein known as the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which helps protect and repairs memory neurons. Also, our brain simultaneously releases endorphins, which is primarily tasked with helping our body counteract the feeling of pain and discomfort from exercise, as well as make us happier.
You know that feeling when you’ve just had a workout and you feel like your problems are somehow more manageable? Our brain manufactures that feeling for us, as a direct result of exercise.
Exercise And Psychotherapy
For those who are battling more than the tolerable levels of stress, exercise is also considered to be beneficial. A study that was discussed in an article by the American Psychological Association found that people with major depressive disorder who exercised had higher rates of remission as those who were on antidepressants. After about a year, those who regularly exercised had lower depression scores than those who were not physically active. This study highlights the big role that exercise plays in not only in treating depression, but also in preventing its relapse.
A counseling and sport psychologist at the Center for Balanced Living in Ohio also recommends exercise to her patients. According to Jennifer Carter, PhD, she finds that patients often relax and open up more when they stroll as they talk.
Other Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
- Anxiety Alleviation. It has been reported that exercise can help lower anxiety sensitivity for people with anxiety disorders. If you’re feeling a little jittery, opt to sweat it out rather than have a hot bath.
- Brainpower Boost. Cardiovascular exercise is believed to help in the formation of new brain cells, as well as enhance overall brain performance. Tougher workouts are particularly connected to higher levels of BDNF, which translate to better decision-making, as well as higher learning and thinking.
- Prevention of Cognitive Decline. If you want to shore up degenerative diseases like Alzheimers as early as now, studies say that exercising between the ages of 25 and 45 can boost the production of chemicals that, among others, prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that facilitates memory and learning.
- Memory-Sharpening. Speaking of exercise and the hippocampus, it turns out that working out does not only prevent degenerative decline; it also actively promotes the production of new cells for sharper memory. In fact, researchers have found a direct link between brain development and physical activity for children. In adults, running sprints has been found to help improve vocabulary retention.
- Increased Relaxation. Exercise also helps improve relaxation. If you work out five to six hours before your bedtime, in particular, it will raise your body’s core temperature; when it goes back down to normal, your body takes that as a signal that it’s time to sleep.
In addition, exercise can help reboot your body clock (which is good for those struggling with substance abuse problems and can’t sleep on time), and enhance creativity.
Tips for Incorporating Exercise Into Your Routine
According to the World Health Organization, around 23% of adults in the world are not doing enough physical activities, and that makes them more susceptible to health problems. Make sure you do not end up as a part of that unfortunate statistic and do your best to incorporate exercise into your habits. Mind these tips:
- Set a time for it. You do not need a full hour to achieve holistic health with exercise; in fact, all you need is 20 minutes, tops. Choose a time of the day that will realistically allow you to pursue it.
- Give yourself reminders. Plan your day with little timely reminders to exercise. For instance, some people opt to put gym clothes on top of their alarm clocks so that they can start the day with a session.
- To supplement exercise, of course, do not forget to eat healthy, and that does not mean that you have to give up on everything that is tasty. If you have a sweet tooth, for example, understanding what you can do to satisfy cravings while also meeting your fitness goals. More often than not, the key to ensuring youre eating well is to make better choices.
In addition, try and convince a friend to workout with you. This will not only motivate you to work out, it is also known to drive better results. In fact, studies have found that people who are a part of a team have higher pain tolerances.
BEST EXERCISES FOR BETTER BRAIN AND BODY HEALTH
I’m about to share with you the golden secret to mental genius and success in every facet of your life. From your studies, to your work, to your relationships, to your physical health, to your spiritual wellbeing: exercise will fix it all. The best part is you won’t need a long to-do list and an unwinding work plan to enjoy its fruits.
So, how does it all work? It’s simple. Just try these 4 exercises today and experience different parts of your brain unlock to reveal your amazing capabilities.
1. Physical and Mental Health – THE EPICS OF AEROBICS
They say music is good for the soul, well aerobics is great for cardiovascular endurance. Repetitive fitness routines are amazing in enhancing your brain’s learning skills, cognitive prowess, physical coordination, and motor coordination skills. Your brain also releases dopamine whenever you get those moves right and because of the funky music in the background.
I think you’d definitely agree with me if you’ve been to one of these classes, that this is one tough workout. Not only will it have you breaking into a quick sweat, itll also have you out of breath and panting in just minutes. Your heart rate will skyrocket and the number of calories you will burn is more than satisfying. Plus, the fun music in the background makes it loads of fun.
2. Physical and Mental Health – HIT THE DANCE FLOOR
Salsa, Break Dancing, Stiletto Strut, Ballet, Ballroom… Wherever your taste lies, these dance workout classes are the perfect time to loosen up, kick back, relax and let your body move to the beat. A lot of mind-body coordination and memorizing is involved here.
However, thanks to the sweet pleasure hormones that your mind releases from dancing to nice music, you won’t even feel the strain of the workout. This is the perfect way to refresh your brain for renewed creativity and take your mind off any stress.
This workout regime will work your entire body, especially your core. It will endow you with endurance, flexibility, and confidence. Dancing is also a fun way to burn those excess calories and achieve a flawless set of washboard abs. For most, these classes are just downright therapeutic. The aesthetic benefits that come with it are just another huge plus.
3. Physical and Mental Health – HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
HIIT?is the perfect way to activate your brain every day. As short as most versions may be, they require intense mind-body coordination to pull off. Also, you will need good memory so that you don’t mess up the sequence of exercises. And for that, you need focus and concentration. The deeper you get into the workout, the harder it gets and the harder it becomes to maintain focus. This is, therefore, the perfect workout for your brain.
This is one form of cardio that is definitely not for the weak at heart. Revolving around short resting periods and explosive workout moves, this routine is bound to break down calories from the most stubborn of areas on your body.
The best part about this workout is that you can modify it to what you like to do. If you like resistance training, then you can use resistance exercises. For those of you who like running, you can also use it every time you adorn your running shoes.
4. Physical and Mental Health – DO YOU LIFT?
For those of you who fancy that fitness model look, then resistance training is for you. I’m talking about body weight exercises and weight training – time to use weight bench. This not about just moving the weight from point A to B, it’s about engaging the right muscle to do the work at hand. To do this, a high level of mind-muscle connection is required, which needs a lot of focus.
Some memory and prior planning also need to go into all your sessions. And the dopamine high that comes with the pump is just insane. Most lifters find this to be an enjoyable anti-stress activity.
Done right, these exercises will make you look phenomenal. For men, this will help you bulk up and shred off fat, keeping you jacked and shredded all year round. For the ladies, this is an excellent way to tone those upper body muscles and build sexy thighs and a nice, rounded butt. These exercises are also known to boost confidence in everyday life activities.
Well, there you have it. The 4 golden exercises for a fit beach body and a razor sharp brain that is key to unlocking a more successful and fulfilling life. Great mind-body coordination, intense concentration, enhanced mental endurance and heightened confidence levels. These are all mental skills that can carry over to different aspects of your life. All while developing your dream to a perfect, healthy stunning physique to wink at every time you look into the mirror.
Guest Blogger Bio: Nancy Moore is the founder and creator of Fitnessgrams. She created Fitnessgrams.com to be a haven for people looking to get fit, boost their health, lose weight, or improve their well-being. Here you will find experiences, workouts, information from the experts, healthy living tips, and tools to find well-being and balance.