Importance of Exercise
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
An important scientifically proven aspect of exercise is the benefits it has on a person’s mental health, especially for those who are diagnosed with a mental illness.
Researchers found that exercise acts as an antidepressant for people with mild to moderate depression. A Harvard study established that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour a da
y lowers a person’s risk of depression by 26%. Long term, exercise promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation, and stimulates a sense of calmness.
Reduces anxiety Physical activity releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, the three “happy hormones.” Endorphins help people feel less pain and stress. Dopamine, the “feel-good hormone,” promotes happiness and pleasure. Serotonin stabilizes a person’s mood and feelings of well-being.
Furthermore, exercise increases mindfulness. When a person exercises, they can notice the way their feet push against the ground, concentrate on their breathing, or feel the wind blowing against them. This sense of mindfulness can stop the flow of constant worries going through their mind.
When a person is under stress, their body may feel physical pain. They could have a pounding headache, muscle cramps, hard time sleeping, and more. Exercise makes them feel better by releasing endorphins, which helps them relieve stress and tension in their body.
Minimizes ADHD symptoms
Exercise is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce ADHD symptoms. It can improve a person’s concentration, memory, mood, motivation, and more. Just like ADHD medications, Adderall and Ritalin, physical activity releases dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Moving on from trauma/PTSD
People who suffer from PTSD are more likely to refrain from exercising because the effects—increase heart rate and difficulty breathing—can seem similar to the traumatic event they experienced. However, studies have shown that exercising has tremendous benefits for people with PTSD.
A National Center for Biotechnology Informative (NCBI) study tested the effects of exercise on adults with PTSD. It was a 12-week exercise program that included 90 minutes weekly. Afterwards, the participants were found to have a significant decrease in PTSD symptoms, depression, and had better sleep quality. Exercise can help people get ‘unstuck’ from their immobilization response to PTSD.
Exercise does not solely benefit people who have mental health illnesses. It can provide sharper thinking and vivid memory recall, increase self-esteem, prevent age related health decline, regulate sleep patterns, and more. Overall, exercise provides tremendous benefits for everyone. Many of the effects are even connected.