Exercise is essential to keep our bodies healthy, but it isn’t just about firm muscles and a trim physique. Our mental health benefits enormously and this is just as vital as our physical wellbeing.
Help with Everyday Problems
Daily life is tough, especially these days. Work, kids, paying the bills, health concerns – there’s always something to struggle with. Stress, anxiety and broken sleep are commonplace and during the day we feel lethargic and unmotivated – it all becomes a vicious circle.
There’s no magic wand to make the daily hassles disappear, but it’s much easier to cope if you’re relaxed and well rested. Regular exercise helps you sleep more soundly and gives you the energy to get through the day. You’ll feel calmer and your memory, concentration and general mood will lift dramatically.
Anxiety and Depression
The benefits of exercise go way beyond the daily grind. If your mood is particularly low physical activity will help. A gym workout, bike ride or exercise class are all great for the mind and body.
If you’re feeling extremely down or overwhelmed, these options may not be for you. That’s ok; a walk around the park or an easy online yoga routine is enough to get you going. A quick stroll around the block is a good start – and once you start it becomes easier.
Trauma and PTSD
In times of stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode. Your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate increase to help you deal with the situation – physically and emotionally. Once the situation eases, your mind and body relax and return to normal.
In extreme circumstances it’s difficult to return to a balanced state – in effect, your nervous system is stuck in the moment. A car accident, physical violence or the trauma of bereavement can be impossible to move beyond without help, and this leads to PTSD.
Exercise forces you to focus on what you’re doing, and this encourages your nervous system to wind down from its heightened state. This helps you to move on from previous traumas – in effect, to become ‘unstuck’ – and, in time, you’ll feel more able to cope.
We’re living longer than we used to, but mentally the ageing process creates many problems. Your memory is less reliable, and your concentration can diminish. Happily, studies reveal that remaining active physically goes a long way to keeping these issues at bay or at least slowing the process considerably.
How Exactly Does Exercise Help our Mental Health?
Exercise triggers the release of endorphins in the brain. These chemicals naturally induce feelings of wellbeing and positivity. Indeed, it’s common to feel energised and happy after a good walk or a tough workout – all of which helps to keep stress and anxiety at bay, improve the quality of sleep, and works wonders for your self-esteem.
Endorphins also boost concentration and mental acuity, which is handy at any age but particularly welcome as we get older. In addition, physical activity stimulates brain cell growth and that’s always a good thing.
And, if you’re feeling better about yourself your confidence improves, social interactions become easier, and you have more physical and mental strength to deal with difficult situations. Good mental health also stops you from turning to alcohol or unhealthy eating habits when things get tough.
You Need Your Feet
Even gentle exercise involves your feet and legs so it’s important to keep these in the best condition possible. At Feet By Pody, our experienced podiatrists will help you keep everything ticking over nicely.