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How Physical Activity Improves Your Mental Health?

Well, it’s not a secret that physical activity improves our health. Everybody says as so: our teachers, our parents, our colleagues, different TV programs, and sessions. Heck, even children

a year ago

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Well, it’s not a secret that physical activity improves our health. Everybody says as so: our teachers, our parents, our colleagues, different TV programs, and sessions. Heck, even children know it — we use a whole lot of words to cover this topic with the help of hundreds of different channels. Sport helps to lose weight, improves brain functions, and makes our immune system stronger, is good for our heart, and blah, blah, blah. But no, don’t get me wrong! I support these claims as they are absolutely truthful.

But today I want to emphasize the benefits for our mental wellbeing that sport brings. Do you think it’s less important to pay attention to it? No way! It’s even more significant — our mental health is a crucial part of our general wellbeing.

Photo by Chander R / Unsplash

The Department of Health recommends dedicating approximately 2,5 hours to physical exercise per week.

One study has proved that people who exercise at least three times a week have more chances to steer clear of anxiety and depression. When I say more, I mean up to 30%! It’s definitely a lot, don’t you agree? Plus, a lot of people say that when they do regular sport, their self-esteem rises. Why not? You do sport, and your body gets fit. You look in the mirror, see the results, and love yourself even more! Besides, there is a rational explanation for this “theory”.

When we have problems that disturb us on a regular basis and don’t give us even a 5-minute break, it definitely leads to a stress response. Our blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, the appetite disappears — the body is preparing for some unusual emergency. But hold on a second, there is good news as well. Physical exercises help get rid of stress by providing stress relief that imitates the effects of stress while protecting our body from deleterious consequences.

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When you run, you have time to analyze your thoughts and calm down. It’s like a therapy session on fresh air, but absolutely free.

And now let’s build a kind of logical chain: more sport in your life = less stress = higher self-esteem, and voila! Well, it may sound too easy and hokey at first, so let me explain in more detail. Sport is directly connected with the production of endorphins — chemicals that prompt a positive feeling in our body. For example, after 15 minutes of running your mood will get inspired, you will feel happy, and more energetic. BUT don’t strict yourself with harsh goals at the beginning. When you just start, the sport has to be effortless and enjoyable.

Circling back to endorphins, when you get them, your self-esteem increases along with better mental wellbeing and lower stress levels. Everything is ridiculously connected.

A woman doing a yoga pose
Photo by Carl Barcelo / Unsplash

A yoga teacher Victoria Woodhall says that yoga is an amazing aid in seeing the world from a different angle.

If you don’t love running, and your heart is fluttering and beating too fast, my response will be YOGA. It may sound obvious, but yoga is a perfect tool to get in touch with your inner self. When it comes to mental health, yoga is all about deep breathing combined with relaxation. Just take a few long deep breaths, and all destructive thoughts momentarily fly away.

In conclusion, I want to add that there are SO MANY kinds of exercises that can help you improve your well-being: running, boxing, swimming, yoga, pilates, biking, dancing. The only thing you need to do is to understand that when you feel blue and depressed, get your butt up and choose your kind of sport. The one that will bring you satisfaction, better mood, and higher self-esteem.

Anna A

Published a year ago