One of the best ways to take control of your psychological health is to get regular exercise. Its effective, empowering, healthy, and best of all, it's free.
Studies have shown the efficacy of engaging in regular exercise to be comparable to that of anti-depressant medication. Furthermore, these studies have also shown that individuals who exercised regularly versus took anti-depressant medication, had less relapse of depressive symptoms. This means that exercising regularly actually makes structural and long-term beneficial changes in you brain. Awesome right!?
Did you know that 75% of highly successful business executives said good physical fitness is "critical for career success at the executive level?” Imagine functioning as a high level executive of your own life. What would your life look like with better ability to focus, improved confidence, and enhanced ability to follow through on your goals and daily tasks?
Physics states that an object in motion, tends to stay in motion. If you are feeling depressed, more often than not, it is because the forward movement and direction that you had in mind is taken away or impeded upon. This could be a job that you didn’t get, or a relationship that didn’t turn out as expected, or some other disappointment. When we don’t get what we want in life, a natural response is to get depressed or deflated to some degree. While the degree to which this let down occurs can be greatly reduced or eliminated over time, (especially with skilled self-effort or the help of a psychotherapist) in the moment we often don’t have much control as to how much we get negatively effected by an “undesirable” event or life circumstance. However, we do have control and ability to greatly influence our turn around time. An object in motion, stays in motion, unless acted on by a greater force. When hit a bump in the road, the greater force has acted. We can stay in the rut or we can use our previous momentum to move through the run quicker thus with less negative impact on our lives. Choosing the later, is the act and development of resiliency. The more resiliency we choose to develop, the more we will be able to keep afloat and uplifted regardless of prevailing circumstances.
Exercise is a great way to get out of the rut because physiologically it activates mood and life enhancing hormones, and psychologically it engages our will and decision for a better quality of life. Physical exercise is a great choice for most individuals because it can be easily and readily engaged by most individuals regardless of ones psychological state. When you don't know how to change your mood or mental state, you can still exercise. In doing so, you help activate the biological functions that support and create a positive shift toward psychological well-being.
Children and exercise:
Did you know that exercise works directly to increase intelligence? Exercise is one of the best ways to pump blood to the brain and encourage the brain to work at optimal capacity. Sadly, schools are still on the decline of exercise based activities do to the increased demand for higher test scores. Reduced exercise in children have been linked to several physical and psychological ailments. Fortunately, this can be counteracted by increasing a child’s outdoor play and exercise outside of school.
The more opportunities and environments that children have to play, the better; as the diversity enhances the cognitive benefits that can be gained. Unstructured outdoor play has been shown to be critical to mental health and some of its benefits are that it promotes creative problem solving, readiness for learning, academic behavior and performance, improved mood including a decrease of depression and anxiety, and healthy sleep patterns.
Take away tips:
1. If you feel stuck or down, Move!
2. Engage in the type of exercise you enjoy: Whether it be walking, light stretching, marathon training. Doing the exercise that is easy and natural to you increases frequency that you will do it, but also allows to re-structure your brain toward the neurology of happiness while you do it.
3. Exercise promotes healthy psychology because of the mind-body link. A key component of this link is that the breath greatly influences and controls emotional and mental states. By consciously regulating your breath during exercise, you can further optimize the physical and psychological benefits gained from the activity.
4. Studies have shown that exercising outdoors can further increase the benefits derived from physical exercise.
Take away tips for parents with children:
1. Find creative ways to get exercise together
2. Squeeze in a couple minutes some squats, jumping jacks, or push-ups during the day.
3. Children seeing you exercise helps to positively model that healthy behavior for them.
4. Get your children to be active outdoors will increase their connection to the outside environment and further increase the benefits gained for exercise.
Exercise and outdoor play on children’s health:
Effects of exercise on mental health:
Written by Brent Pilegard, LMFT-A
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.