Mental Health & Exercising
Now, more than ever, it is essential for us to be aware of our mental health and take action in our lives to keep healthy. Studies show, almost half of adults will experience some form of mental illness and less than half of them seek treatment from a professional.
In times where everything is amplified by constant change and uncertainty, what can we do to combat this trend?
How Does it Work?
Unfortunately, stress is a part of everyday life and we all handle it differently. While one of the best things to help combat stress is to exercise, many times stress will leave us tired, unmotivated, and frustrated. Studies have shown that the chemical norepinephrine (no-rep-e-nef-rin) moderates how the brain responds to stressful and emotional situations by working with neurotransmitters to control the symptoms of stress when they appear. Higher levels of norepinephrine mean lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
Put more simply, as this hormone increases, stress decreases. The good news is that we can produce higher levels of norepinephrine (and endorphins!) when we exercise! Therefore, regular exercise can be considered a natural form of stress relief!
The Importance of Sleep
Most likely, you’ve heard that the recommended amount of sleep per night is 7-9 hours. Mazel tov to all of you who are meeting this recommendation! We all have so many obstacles that prevent us from getting an appropriate amount of restful sleep-- stress, technology, restlessness, etc.
Once again, regular exercise/ movement can help with this! Just being consistent 30 minutes per day, 4 times per week can lead to better sleeping habits. Creating routines in your workouts and daily life can lead to a more consistent sleeping and nighttime routine. The more rested you are, the calmer and less stressed you'll feel.
Lastly, another known benefit of regular exercise is confidence. While this may not be the number one priority on our list, it’s still worth noting that exercise can increase both our physical and mental confidence. Instead of marinating in the way we look today or an argument we were in earlier, we reduce stress by staying active. Exercise not only makes us feel better on the outside, but the inside too! We’ve all had that moment, where we have done something that we couldn’t do before. Our first push up, running 1 mile without stopping, squatting without pain! Don’t forget—we are all unique! Focus on what you love about yourself, and don’t sweat the “imperfections” you may see in yourself! After all, no one is perfect.
If you are struggling to find the motivation to exercise, why not start a group activity with a friend?
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