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How Exercise Impacts Mental Health

Many people think of mental and physical health as entirely separate entities, but the reality is that they are deeply intertwined with each other and with your overall emotional well being. In addition to reducing risks of other physical illnesses, consistent physical exercise has been proven to have other beneficial side effects for your health as a whole. Improved sleeping habits as well as alleviation of mental health conditions are common associations with daily physical exercise. Even small actions to improve or maintain your physical health can help build healthier habits in other areas of your life. If you’re having difficulty finding ways to get active in general, schedule an appointment and discuss this with your doctor or mental health professional for support. The goal is to incorporate a physical activity routine that fits into your overall treatment plan.

Healthy Schedule, Healthy Habits

Incorporating a workout of some kind into your usual routine can help stabilize the rest of your life and habits in a number of ways. It is recommended that you aim for at least 30 minutes most days, but even taking 5-10 minute breaks for physical exercise can make a difference. Meeting with a therapist can help you identify barriers, internal or external, that have been preventing you from getting a healthy amount of exercise. This reflective process can prompt healthy adjustments to your physical, mental, and emotional well being while deepening your self awareness and self compassion. One of the biggest challenges people face is following through on physical fitness goals. Work with your therapist to get help doing the following:

Working out doesn’t need to be viewed as a chore. Approaching your chosen form of exercise as a tool to improve your physical and mental health, like therapy, can help you view it as a valuable and powerful part of your routine.

Improve Your Sleep Quality

Everything is more difficult if you’re exhausted. Exercising during the day, especially if you can get access to natural light, makes a normalized sleep schedule more possible. This, in turn, can lessen the strain on other parts of your mental health. Prioritizing physical activity and sleep can lead to:

Lack of sleep has been shown to exacerbate the effects of mental health concerns like anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. Successful approaches for sleep-related concerns are aligned with mental health coping mechanisms, such as meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and avoiding substance use and abuse. While alcohol can be associated with drowsiness, it is detrimental to your quality of sleep. A more consistent and healthy sleep schedule becomes easier to achieve as part of a schedule that consistently prioritizes physical activity.

Ease & Prevent Symptoms of Some Mental Health Conditions

Many things can impact our moods biochemically, but we can experience enhanced moods after exercising in as little as 5 minutes in some cases. Exercising on a more regular basis can positively impact your mental health and reduce negative symptoms by:

Getting your blood pumping means you’re literally pumping blood to your brain faster, allowing you to think more clearly. Exercise develops the part of your brain that is responsible for memory (the hippocampus), thus boosting memory. Additionally, it is known to curb age-related decline of brain functions. Working out can also improve self-esteem by providing a specific outlet that builds a sense of strength and power. The thrill associated with achieving even minor exercise goals will also positively impact your well being and self confidence.

Schedule An Appointment

Ultimately, mental health treatment is entirely contingent on the individual experience. Meeting with a therapist is an opportunity to unpack what is contributing to areas of struggle and find solutions for a wide range of health related concerns. Dr. Mothner is here to help you find the best way to align your physical health goals with your mental health goals. She works with clients in the Hermosa Beach and South Bay area of California. Reach out today to learn about her services and schedule an appointment!