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The Importance of Exercise for Mental Health

Very rarely do people take into account how their physical health and mental health are connected.  I talk with every patient that seeks my help about setting not just goals for their mental health improvement but goals for their physical health as well. Both our physical and emotional well-being is important for our overall health.  Therefore, it is important to evaluate improvement options as a whole person solution. 


I am never surprised when I hear that someone has gotten into bad sleeping patterns, unhealthy eating patterns, or tapered off on their exercise regimen.  I have written previously about how poor sleep disrupts emotional regulation abilities and how poor nutrition can cause an emotional roller coaster.  However, the importance of exercise is often overlooked in mental health discussions.  We have a tendency to think of exercise in terms of weight loss or cardiovascular health.  However, regular exercise has enormous benefits for our mental health as well.


First, taking time out regularly to exercise is good practice in devoting the time to prioritize your needs before all of the other demands in your life.  Even if it is only twenty to thirty minutes a few times a week, it is a wonderful commitment you are making to your own well-being.  Often for those who struggle with mental health issues, making time for their own well-being is not a habit they have formed, so exercise offers a good reason to form this important habit.


Second, exercise releases endorphins, which help raise your overall sense of happiness and helps combat depressive hopelessness and the overwhelming sensation that comes with anxiety.  The physical activity forces you to be present in the moment giving you practice in keeping yourself focused.  This can be tremendously helpful when combatting mental health issues.  Physical movement helps your body function at its optimal levels, thus enhancing your attention and memory.   Plus, if you stick with it past the initial shock to your body, your energy level will increase.


Finally, exercise opens up new ways to create a sense of mastery.  When you take up a new activity, over time you will see the improvements of practicing that activity such as changes in your body, improved strength, increased endurance, higher energy level, or just strictly the ability to do something better. It makes you feel good about yourself and improves self-esteem. 


Give it a try.  I promise you are worth the 20-30 minutes of your day that it will take to see improvements!

Reader Comments (1)

thank you for sharing with us this information we love it. if you stick with it past the initial sock to your body.

February 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Lena

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