Fitness and Mental Health – How are They Related? 

Fitness and Mental Health

Many people are surprised to learn that fitness and mental health are closely related. When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or complications from obesity, it’s common for doctors to recommend treatment plans that include exercise. 

Improvements in physical fitness are known to decrease the risks associated with many life-threatening diseases, but that isn’t the only application for fitness in the medical world. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, depression, schizophrenia or any other mental disorder, there’s a chance that focusing on fitness could come with powerful benefits.

Exercise may also help those suffering from low self-esteem or disorders that lead to social withdrawal. Science has proven that even moderate exercise delivers a mood-enhancing benefit that hits within five minutes of completing the activity. Other short-term benefits include enhanced focus or concentration, but it’s the long-term benefits that are so promising.

How Fitness Improves Mental Well-Being

Research has now shown that fitness and mental health are so related that just 30 minutes of walking or another moderate activity performed three times per week is enough to lower a person’s risk of the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • Obesity
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings

Notice that many of these long-term benefits of fitness address common symptoms of mood disorders and mental health issues. Someone who is depressed is likely to feel fatigued and may experience insomnia while withdrawing from social interactions. An anxiety sufferer may develop high blood pressure and suffer from sleep disorders due to their condition.

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Fitness and Mental Health Improvement

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A meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials including 1877 participants, demonstrated that resistance exercise training was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.

This is just another example of why an increasing number of psychologists and therapists are not only becoming aware of the connection between fitness and mental health, they are recommending exercise to their patients. Some are taking it a step further by offering walking therapy sessions and other creative treatment models that get mental health patients moving. If you ever want someone to open up and talk to you freely, you might consider taking them out for a long walk.

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Mental Health is Important for Everyone

You don’t need to be diagnosed with a serious mental health condition to benefit from improvements to your fitness level. There are a few critical benefits of exercise that can improve your daily life in valuable ways:

  • Improved Self-Esteem. Routine fitness activities can help you hold your high with confidence. It can change the way you think about yourself and help you think about your circumstances in a more positive manner. It helps that you’ll look better after working out consistently, but there are also changes within the brain and hormone levels that contribute to this newfound confidence.
  • Enhanced Quality of Sleep. Sleep deprivation is the gateway to many mental health disorders. It can lead you to depression, and it’s common for anxiety to cause sleep disturbances. Sleep deprivation is also one of the leading triggers for panic attacks and recurring depression.
  • Improved Cognitive Functioning. Your ability to focus at work or pay attention to in-depth conversations could improve with regular exercise. Your brain needs the boost that comes from challenging movements and new routines.
  • Stress Relief. Stress is a constant burden for most people in our fast-paced, modern world, and it’s not something to take lightly. It can put you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke, and it takes years off your life when experienced consistently over time or to an extreme level.

Muse is a brain-sensing technology that synthesizes traditional psychotherapy with mindfulness theory and yoga. It is used around the world by neuroscientists, researchers, health professionals, and projects in hospitals and universities including NASA, The Mayo Clinic, UCL, MIT and many more.

Muse -- to improve sleep and manage stress.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you currently weigh, or how sedentary your lifestyle may be at this moment. It’s never too late to add moderate exercise into your daily life, increase your daily activity level, and make healthy changes in your diet.

If you’re ready to start enjoying the mental benefits of exercise, reach out to others for support online or in your local community and family. Enjoy positive fitness and mental health at ANY age! 

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