Have you ever been told, “Go for a walk, you’ll feel better!”
There’s scientific proof behind that statement.
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. You’ve probably heard of a “runner’s high”. It’s a real thing, and if you want to improve your mental health, incorporating exercise into your routine can help.
Exercising Can Help Ease Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety
Even if it’s the last thing we want to do when we’re feeling down, exercise can have a significant effect on our mental health. Research has shown that regular, moderate exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by relieving tension and stress.
The predictability of exercise can also help with focus and add a sense of mindfulness to your day.
Exercise Can Reduce Stress
Regardless of age, stress is a normal part of life. Short-term stress can help motivate us to achieve our goals and even improve alertness and memory, according to Daniela Kaufer, an associate professor at UC Berkeley.
However, when stress becomes chronic and we don’t have the right coping strategies, it can have serious negative effects on mental health. People may turn to substance use to cope, and habitual use as a coping mechanism can develop into a substance use disorder.
Exercising releases endorphins that help relax the body, and can serve as a positive coping mechanism to help us focus on something else besides our stressors.
Exercising Can Help You Sleep Better
Having trouble sleeping? The lack of sleep can negatively affect our mood and mental health, so making sure you get enough sleep will help you feel better and more alert during the day. Exercise can help with that!
Exercise increases sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and decreases the amount of time lying awake in bed. Since exercise can help reduce weight gain, it makes you less likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Combine Exercise With Healthy Eating
If you or a loved one are in recovery, exercise and a healthy diet can help you get back on a healthy track.
Before beginning an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor. They will perform a physical and recommend the best place to start, and work with you to prescribe treatment if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health illness. This could be in the form of medication, counseling, or both.
If you’re suffering from substance use disorder, PreventEd has resources available, including counselors and peer support specialists. We also work to help reduce substance misuse and substance use disorder in our communities through education, outreach, and advocacy.
Remember that Exercise alone will not solve all of your problems, but can be a powerful too as part of a more comprehensive recovery plan developed with experienced providers.