The Connection between Exercise and Mental Health

It’s no secret that exercise and staying fit encourages weight loss and keeps the body
strong. However, did you know that fitness goes beyond just physical appearance? As you
exercise and remain physically active, you inadvertently improve your overall well- being.

For the purposes of this article, we shall be focusing on physical fitness and mental health.
Exercise has been found to be a powerful conduit to treating and even preventing common
mental health issues. Below, we take a deeper look at the connection and impact of exercise
and mental health.

Exercise, Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety affects at least 40 million American people aged 18 and above as stated by the
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. They continue to state that such
individuals have a higher risk of ending up hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder (Facts
and Statistics). The good news is, anxiety is treatable, exercise among the top methods used
(Exercise for Stress and Anxiety ).

Stress is also a common issue that most people worldwide struggle with. Admittedly, stress
Is unavoidable, yet; there are ways that we can effectively deal with it.

The exercise which often entails the movement of your body tends to encourage blood flow
to vital organs in your body. This also includes the brain. When there’s more blood in your
brain, you are able to think more clearly, which is vital when in stressful situations
(Exercise and mental health).

Additionally, exercise reduces the production and levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the
body. Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones. Also, physical activity and fitness
encourages the production of endorphins which is a mood elevator (The Mental Health
Benefits of Exercise) (Exercise and mental health).

Exercise and PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder often develops after life-threatening or life-altering events
take place. Notably, PTSD can lead to the development of a number of chronic diseases such
as diabetes and cardiovascular health (‘Working out’ PTSD – exercise is a vital part of
treatment, 2014).

It also increases the risk of one engaging in dangerous and unhealthy activities such as
drinking, drug abuse and even overeating (‘Working out’ PTSD – exercise is a vital part of
treatment, 2014). In other words, they try and engage in activities that can help them cope
with their condition. Instead, they make their condition worse and threaten their own life
and health.

Exercise serves as a healthier and more effective distraction. In fact, it even helps improve
an individual’s mood and increase one’s state of calmness. Additionally, physical fitness has
been found to increase one’s sense of control in terms of coping and dealing with stress,
anxiety and challenging situations (Exercise and mental health).

Exercise and Depression
According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 people of all ages worldwide
suffer from depression (Amy Morin, 2019). It’s not only common, but depression is also
dangerous as it can lead people to commit suicide. Exercise, however, has been found as an
effective treatment for mild or even moderate depression.

Exercise, as many are aware, stimulates the brain to release hormones known as dopamine
and endorphins. These neurotransmitters are known as feel-good hormones because they
tend to improve a person’s mood. Additionally, exercise encourages the reduction of
inflammation and stimulates neural growth (The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise).

In conclusion, exercising and staying fit is more than just improving physical appearance.
Exercising and keeping your body moving will boost your energy levels and mood, improve
your cognitive health as well as help you sleep better. Studies have also shown that
exercise and physical fitness aid in the prevention of chronic diseases as well.

‘Working out’ PTSD – exercise is a vital part of treatment. (2014, December 12). Retrieved

May 28, 2019, from The Conversation:

Amy Morin, L. (2019, March 21). Depression Statistics Everyone Should Know. Retrieved May
28, 2019, from Very Well Mind:

Exercise and mental health. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from Health Direct:

Exercise and mental health. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from Better Health:

Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from Anxiety and Depression
Association of America:

Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from The Anxiety and Depression
Association of America:

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from HelpGuide:

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