Exercises For Your Mental Health

Exercise is effective in dealing with all types of symptoms of mental health like depression, anxiety, stress. It is also a well-known fact that exercise is good for your physical health. 

Mental health is struggling in more recent challenging times and events. And although 1 in 5 adults experience some form of a mental illness or symptoms from a mental health disorder or diagnosis. Since mental health has become so prevalent in our lives, it is important to find various types of treatments like exercise, to battle the side effects of poor mental health.

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Regular exercise will improve your physical health, defined physique, weight loss, increased sex drive, provide a longer life span, and a more youthful appearance. Studies have reported that regular exercise brings them a sense of well-being, increased energy, better sleep, sharper memory, and thoughts. Individuals are overall more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. 

The good news is that you do not have to be a gym rat to reap the rewards from regular exercise. Research has shown that even small amounts of exercise can have a positive impact on the side effects of poor physical or mental health. No matter the age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful therapy for improved physical and mental health.

Exercise and Depression

When it comes to types of exercises that help improve mood and fight depression, aerobic and cardio tend to show better results. Medical and mental health experts usually recommend 20-30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week. As of more recent times, various scientific studies have not found an association between the intensity level of the exercise and its emotional benefits on the individual.

Different types of exercises that help fight depression include but are not limited to:

  • Jogging and running
  • Hiking
  • Weight training
  • Strength training
  • Yoga and breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Mixed martial arts and boxing
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing

Exercise and Anxiety

The toll of anxiety can be high if left untreated. Anxiety increases an individual’s risk for other mental health side effects. It can contribute to negative impacts on the physical body like cardiovascular problems and even diabetes. 

Some of the benefits of exercise on people with anxiety include but are not limited to:

  • Exercise diverts your focus from whatever the individual is feeling anxious about.
  • Exercise decreases muscle tension and lowers the reaction of feeling anxious.
  • Increasing the heart rate changes brain chemistry, increasing anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endocannabinoids.
  • Exercise shows increased positive effects in the frontal regions of the brain. This part of the brain is directly responsible for executive function and controls our responses or reactions to existent or nonexistent threats to our physical survival.

Different types of exercises that help fight depression include but are not limited to:

  • Hiking
  • Weight training
  • Yoga and breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Dancing

Exercise and Stress

Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Stress is not just a mental health issue because it is also reported to have various physical side effects or negative reactions.

If stress is chronic and left untreated, it can lead to many long term health conditions like depression, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also affects daily health with symptoms of headaches, back pain, insomnia, upset stomach, anxiety, and even bouts of extreme anger or violence.

Different types of exercises that help reduce stress include but are not limited to:

  • Walking
  • Jogging and running
  • Weight training
  • Yoga and breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Mixed martial arts and boxing
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing

Exercise and ADHD

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health side effects on children and young adults. It is typically diagnosed in childhood and can last well into adulthood. Medication is often used to treat ADHD. With a regular exercise program – studies report a great improvement in unpleasant symptoms or side effects.

Different types of exercises that help fight ADHD include but are not limited to:

  • Jogging and running
  • Hiking
  • Strength training
  • Yoga and breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Mixed martial arts and boxing
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Team sports

Exercise and PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur in individuals who have witnessed or have experienced some sort of trauma. Most people associate PTSD with our armed forces or acts of war and/or terrorism. However, PTSD is reported present in many individuals who have experienced a natural disaster, serious accident, physical injury, sexual assault, or rape. PTSD has a unique relationship with exercise. This is because it has zero restrictions on which kind of exercise you can do to get some relief. If you enjoy it, do it!

Some of the most common types of exercises used to manage symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:

  • Jogging and running
  • Weight training
  • Strength training
  • Yoga and breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Mixed martial arts and boxing
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing

Other mental benefits from regular exercise include but are not limited to:

  • Improved Memory and Positive Thoughts: Endorphins that make you feel better also assist in concentration and help with feeling alert. Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related declines like dementia or even Alzheimer’s.
  • Higher Self Esteem and Improved Body Image: Regular exercise is an investment in your mental and physical health and when it becomes a habit, it can bring on feelings of increased self-worth and feelings of power and strength. Regular exercise will have positive impacts by meeting set physical exercise goals, comes feelings of achievement and reward. 
  • Improved Sleep: Short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon assist with a proper night’s rest. If you want to exercise at night, more relaxing exercises such as yoga or a stretch session will improve sleep.
  • Increased Energy: By bringing up your heart rate during exercise at least a few times per week, will naturally give you more energy.
  • Improved Endurance: Exercise is an effective and healthy coping mechanism when dealing with difficult life challenges. Regular exercise boosts your immune system and assists with reducing stress.

Exercise And Other Treatment Methods For Improved Mental Health

Exercise is a very inexpensive treatment for improving your mental health however, each individual and their own psychological needs are unique. In addition to exercise, there are various other treatment options and therapies to help with coping with mental health struggles.

Some other treatment methods available for improved mental health include but are not limited to:

Individual Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy is done individually to discuss issues with a trained therapist in a confidential and safe environment. This often leads to healthier coping skills and better self-awareness. During these sessions, topics like the individual’s past or current challenges, experiences, relationships experienced, feelings, or thoughts are discussed in the attempt to provide insight. 

Individual psychotherapy can teach an individual how to remain in control over negative symptoms or side effects from mental illness. This type of treatment also offers healing and an overall sense of increased well being and improved self-esteem. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another form of individual therapy that explores an individual’s thoughts, belief system, and attitudes in an attempt to get a better understanding of what factors or connections influence emotions and behavior. CBT is based around teaching effective coping methods and strategies for overcoming diversity and other areas of problems or negativity in an individual’s life. This then creates a stronger foundation for truly modified healthy and positive behaviors. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) provides individual psychotherapy sessions that teach new skills in how to effectively manage negative emotions and works to decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing key therapeutic skills like mindfulness, tolerance, endurance, healthier communication skills, and the importance of regulating your emotions. 

Group Therapy 

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can include multiple therapists or counselors. These groups are typically small in size. Group therapy can be very universal because many different forms of psychotherapy can be used effectively while treating symptoms of poor mental health.

Group therapy is used as a therapeutic mechanism of change. This is done through development, examining interpersonal relationships within the group through self-awareness.

Family Therapy 

Poor mental health can affect the entire family and its structure. The goal of family therapy is to unite the family and promote healing and positive mental health through therapeutic and positive interactions. To accomplish these goals, the family unit will be taught specific skills like improved communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. Family therapy is designed to offer a positive experience that brings both healing to the individual and their entire familial unit.

Equine Therapy 

Equine Therapy aka Horse Therapy, Equine Assisted Therapy, and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, is a form of therapy that involves interactions between individuals and horses. This therapy uses horses as a form of mental health treatment. Activities like grooming, feeding, haltering, leading a horse, and even horseback riding are included. 

This is all done as a supervised event performed alongside a mental health professional and sometimes with the assistance of a horse professional. The goal of equine therapy is to assist the individual in developing coping skills and character traits. Equine therapy teaches accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and discipline.

Art Therapy 

Art Therapy is used in an attempt to harness the creative art-making process. When an individual has issues with mental health and they are left untreated it can destroy an individual’s natural creativity. Art therapy is used to recapture the individual’s natural creative process which can heal the artists. By analyzing the transference process between the therapist and the individual, the therapist can assess and identify the individual’s self-expression as communicated through their art. Together, they can work on expressing trauma or adversity lending towards healing pleasantly and beautifully. 

Mindful Meditation 

Mindful meditation is used to help an individual focus on the moment, remaining in the present. While practicing mindful meditation the individual is learning to become present within their reality. Mindful meditation offers a plethora of positive and healthy benefits.  

  • Decreased stress
  • Enhanced ability to deal with loss or illness
  • Decreased depression 
  • Overall improved physical and mental health.

Music Therapy 

Music Therapy utilizes both music and musical elements by a musical therapist to promote, maintain, and re-establish emotional, physical, and positive mental health. There are many qualities in music that can be used for a variety of mental health concerns. This form of therapy helps with behavioral and emotional problems and helps to alleviate stress. 

Recovery is Possible at Renewal Behavioral Health!

At Renewal Behavioral Health, our primary focus is to educate people on the importance of mental health. You can achieve lasting change with the proper treatment including proven therapies like exercise! 

Contact us today to learn more about our exercise and physical fitness therapies and other mental health treatments. Improved mental health is right around the corner, and at Renewal Behavioral Health, we can help make that possible!

References

https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/generalmhfacts.pdf

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd