“Exercise keeps me occupied, which is good for my mental health!”-Gail Porter.
Exercise ensures successful brain functioning. There is a long history of how our ancestors knew the importance of fitness and maintaining an active lifestyle. Some studies suggest that this relationship is a part of the evolutionary process as physical activity is associated with survival. There has been overwhelming evidence of how exercise helps in delaying or preventing the neurodegenerative changes in the brain and also helps in improving mental health.
How does exercise help?
- Depression: It is said the exercise is the most underutilized drug for depression! Various studies have supported the role of exercise to improve symptoms of depression. The reason is attributed to the secretion of neurotransmitters like serotonin and endogenous morphine which produce a state of euphoria.
- Anxiety: High-intensity exercise has shown to improve anxiety. 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has a positive effect. Some hypothesis behind the positive effect is increased in temperature causes a decrease in muscle tension. Another possible reason is the activation of the sympathetic nervous system causing an increase in adrenaline. This provides a catalyst for the parasympathetic nervous system and the acetylcholine released causes the calming effect.
- Cognitive functioning: It’s an important party of mental health and well being. Regional cerebral blood flow improves with exercise causing an increase in glucose uptake and oxygen. All this will help to improve the cerebral activity.
Incorporate 20 to 30 minutes every day and perform some sort of exercise. Aerobics in form of walking, dancing, jogging, biking. Include strengthening exercises in your routine 2-3 times per week.
It’s never too late to start exercises and continue doing them as a routine. “Sound mind resides in a sound body”!