Have you ever tried exercise to relieve stress or a bad mood? Chances are you felt better afterward. Scientific research has demonstrated that the link between exercise and mental health is strong, though not fully understood. Research shows exercise provides short and long-term psychological improvements, including:
1. Reversing stress—Exercise can provide an immediate distraction from stressful worries and frustration. It helps you cope by producing a sense of calm as it relieves muscle tension and boosts energy. It’s important to choose exercise options you enjoy.
2. Building self-esteem—Achieving fitness goals, even small ones, can build confidence, restore positive feelings and give you a sense of control, as well as improve your body image.
3. Lifting depression—Working the muscles releases mood enhancers in the brain, and may reduce chemicals that worsen depression. Alleviating a depressed mood and anxiety generally takes a longer course of exercise. The best results may occur with moderately intense aerobic workouts lasting 30 to 40 minutes most days of the week. They may significantly cut symptoms of moderate depression. Weight training might also be effective.
Is staying fit mentally the best incentive for staying active?
It offers an immediate reward: Mood-boosting benefits can happen within minutes, while the physical effects of regular exercise, such as weight loss and increased muscle mass, can take weeks.
Now that the weather is nicer, being physically active outdoors is appealing. Anything that gets your body moving is terrific–walk through your neighborhood or a nearby park, enjoy a hike on a nearby trail or hop on your bike for a spin.
If you’re looking for classes, use of equipment or guidance in training to help you with increasing your activity, consider joining a gym. In addition to daily group fitness classes, including water aerobics,
Valley’s Fitness Center now offers state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment. The Fitness Center is located on the Valley Medical Center main campus. For more information, visit valleymed.org/fitness or call 425.656.4006.