The importance of Physical and Mental Wellness
By Leanne Thompson
You are probably aware that keeping physically active can have several benefits for physical health. If you start to include some form of exercise in your life each day you can reduce the risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer and you can make it less likely that you will suffer a stroke. Of course, there is never complete certainty that you will not become ill, but being physically active helps to reduce the risk.
It’s not just physical health that can be positively impacted by exercise either; mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and ADHD can also be improved. You do not have to suddenly become a huge exercise enthusiast either, any amount of increased physical activity can be beneficial.
How exercise benefits mental health
Taking a look at the link between physical activity and mental health shows you just how much benefit you can get from ensuring that regular exercise is included in your life.
Depression can be a debilitating illness. It’s not just about feeling down; it’s a dark fog that can envelop your life even when there does not appear to be any reason for it doing so. If you suffer from depression, physical exercise can help in several ways.
- Reducing brain inflammation.
- Promoting neural growth.
- Releasing endorphins which improve the way you feel.
- Providing a focus away from dark thoughts.
Everyday life is enough to cause stress for many people. Sometimes it can seem as though stresses just pile on top of one another throughout the day. The physical effects of stress can be severe including heart palpitations, insomnia, headache and stomach ache. Exercise helps to reduce levels of stress, and stop physical symptoms, by:
- Releasing endorphins.
- Helping muscles to relax, reducing tension.
There are several different symptoms of ADHD, including lack of concentration, forgetfulness, restlessness and mood swings. Quite often these symptoms are alleviated with the use of medication. Exercise has a similar effect to medication; it raises levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the body. If you suffer from ADHD, this can help you to focus as well as improving your mood.
What sort of exercise should you do each day?
It’s important to realise that taking any kind of exercise on a daily basis is a good start. The recommended minimum level of physical activity for an adult, under the age of 64, is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. You can split this up to just a few minutes each day, or you can choose longer exercise periods every other day. Moderate exercise is physical activity that makes you slightly out of breath. If you prefer to take part in vigorous exercise activities such as running or taking part in a football or tennis match, the recommended minimum weekly level is 75 minutes. Exercise options you may want to think about include:
- Attending a centre such as The Lab Spa where you can enjoy several different activities such as gym workouts and swimming sessions in the pool.
- Walking briskly to and from work.
- Investing in a jogging pushchair so that you can jog when you take your child to the park.
- Joining a local hiking group so that you can get fit and enjoy seeing new sights.
These are just some exercise suggestions; there are many ways in which you can start to improve your physical and mental well-being with physical activity.
Do not forget that it’s a good idea to seek medical advice before you start new exercise activity, if you are not used to physical activity of that level. This is especially important if you are older, overweight or have existing health issues. Your doctor may help by suggesting safe physical activity for you. Many surgeries have programmes which you can become involved in.
Physical activity is not something you should put off; you need to start getting fit as soon as you can. Lack of physical activity increases your risk of developing physical problems such as diabetes and heart failure. You also feel more lethargic when you are physically inactive which can often increase the likelihood of developing mental health issues such as depression. Conversely, taking regular exercise improves your physical health and your mental well-being, at the same time. The two are interconnected and improvements in either your mental and physical fitness usually bring about improvements in your overall health.