How Exercise Can Improve Mental Health

One of the most difficult parts of living with mental illness is disruption of your ability to do the things you need to do to manage your life. For example, depression, anxiety and ADHD can interfere with your work, and you may find yourself lacking the motivation necessary to handle chores like laundry, grocery shopping and keeping medical appointments.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of mental illness do more than keep you from important tasks. They often prevent you from participating in and enjoying activities you once loved. Many conditions sap your energy or make spending time with others an overwhelming experience, so it is tempting to stay inside on your own. Exercise is an effective method of treating many mental illnesses, and it offers an alternative for those who prefer to avoid medication therapies.

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise


It's no secret that exercise is important to full-body health. A regular routine strengthens your muscles, builds your endurance and helps with managing weight. However, many people don't realize how exercise can improve mental health. When you exercise, your body releases powerful feel-good chemicals that can boost your mood dramatically. These same chemicals tend to help you feel relaxed, and most people discover that they have more energy throughout the day. Better still, they have fewer issues with insomnia, which improves their sleep cycle; a good night's sleep can do wonders for your overall mental state.

Studies show that exercise actually changes how your brain functions, and over time, you will notice that your memory improves. Physical activity prompts neural growth, which can lead to long-term changes in the patterns of thought that contribute to anxiety and depression. The simple act of setting time aside for exercising often boosts self-confidence, and it gives you an opportunity to relieve the tension that builds up throughout the day. Finally, focusing on the exercise is often a welcome distraction from negative thoughts and emotions. A small break from your symptoms goes a long way in improving your ability to get through the many tasks you need to accomplish each day.

Simple Steps for Getting Started


When you are feeling tired, hopeless, overwhelmed or in pain, finding the energy to exercise may seem impossible. Fortunately, even small amounts of movement can help. Don't push yourself to start a complicated regimen? you are likely to abandon it after a single session. Instead, start small, with a walk around the block or a few laps in your neighborhood pool. Try five minutes of yoga per day, or promise your dog ten minutes of playtime.

As the activity becomes part of your routine, you will start to feel the benefits of exercising? and you can look forward to a boost in your motivation. This may prompt you to add a few more minutes to your daily exercise habit. Make sure you choose activities that you enjoy? this goes a long way toward increasing your interest in following through on your exercise plan.

Anxiety is a debilitating condition that can make even the simplest activities difficult. It robs you of time with friends and family, and it often keeps you from doing the things you love. Practitioners at Affinity Treatment Centers have the experience and expertise needed to help you overcome the symptoms of anxiety, and they specialize in alternative methods of managing your condition. Learn more about your options, including managing anxiety through exercise, by contacting Affinity to schedule your consultation.