As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to understand the connection between mental and physical health. Especially during the age of social distancing and quarantine, there has been heightened awareness of self-care for the mind. But did you know that movement is medicine, too? It benefits not only our physical health and immunity but also our mental health!
Can exercise really help my mental health?
Yes! Our brain controls all the functions in our body, which includes our response to external stressors. Everything is connected in the body, which means that stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to worsening your pain. Exercise helps to release endorphins and sends the blood flow and oxygen to the areas of the brain that help regulate emotions. This leads to improved self-esteem and may help build your social network, which is another way to improve your mental health.
How often should I exercise to notice a difference in my mental health?
Research shows that exercising 3 days per week for 45-60 minutes can help you feel better emotionally. It can even help chronic depression! However, exercising daily, whether it be intense or moderate, will make a big difference! If you’re feeling stressed or anxious with self-isolating and the uncertainty of the pandemic, try taking a walk! Remember, exercising is only a piece of the puzzle! Always talk to your mental health provider or primary care physician regarding your mental health treatment plan.
What exercises should I do for my mental health?
This type of exercise is great because it requires no extra equipment and can be done almost anywhere! You could take a walk, jog, or run outside or a treadmill if you have one. If you have a bicycle, try finding a good trail and biking on a nice day!
Not only does yoga help with strengthening and stretching your body, but it also helps you regulate your breathing! This is especially helpful in times of stress because you can calm the body by using breathing techniques. Many yoga studios teach classes of all levels, so you can find one that best fits where you are in your wellness journey.
If you have weights at home, strength training is a good way to release stress. Not only will this help your mood, but resistance exercises are helpful to preserve bone and muscle mass. The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged us all to get creative with our exercise routine, so try finding items in your household, like canned food or large books, if you do not have any equipment available.
The most important thing is that you find an exercise routine that works for you!