Mental Health Fitness

Fitness and well-being tend to be viewed in the context of physical exercise: sports, leisure or gym sessions. But this activity is just as crucial to mental as physical health.

Stress relief
When we are taking a brisk stroll, pounding a treadmill or shifting weights around, we are certainly keeping our bodies in shape. Muscles are exercised, our cardiovascular system is given a workout, and calories are burned away. What is  equally important is what this is doing to our minds.

Physical activity helps our mental well-being in so many ways. It will increase concentrations of a chemical in our brain called norepinephrine, which is released as a response to stress. So moments spent working up a sweat will directly impact on negative thoughts, assisting you in the process of placing issues in perspective and calming down.

There is further good news. The effects of all this stress-busting neurological action can last for some time, with one intense session alleviating the symptoms of anxiety or trauma for many hours. When these routines become regular, the underlying issues of depression will diminish at an inverse rate. In fact, scientific studies have demonstrated that a strict exercise regime will work just as effectively as the more traditional anti-depressive methods, such as medication.

A jog around several blocks will also release endorphins, chemicals that induce feelings of contentment and euphoria. If you have been suffering from depressive episodes, one of the first stepping stones towards making a recovery is putting a smile back on your face.

Overall health regime
The more regularly you do exercise, the better physical condition you'll be in. We've all felt the impact of having to run for a bus when perhaps it's been a while since we've been to the gym, or we've been over-indulging in rich foods (especially around festive seasons.) Feeling breathless is not pleasant. But once we've returned our body to feeling better by putting it through various paces, running – one of the most popular forms of physical activity – will become much easier.

Once you've indulged in any form of physical activity over a period of time, you should eventually start noticing the difference in your mirror. Shedding those superfluous pounds will boost your confidence and self-esteem. These are critical factors in determining your mental outlook.

Physical activity needn't be restricted to your local health club or fitness centre. Why not simply head out to a local park, or nature trail? Whether you choose to run, hike, cycle, climb or even go kayaking, doing this out in the fresh air, against a scenic background, will make you feel so much better on the inside. Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight is an added bonus.

As well as soothing those worries or anxieties, exercise will assist with your sleep patterns, making you feel naturally rested. The more ‘up' you feel, the more likely you'll be ready for some social engagement, whether that means you want to flirt, or just plan your next physical activity.

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