Exercise & Mental Health

Exercise & Mental Health

In these tough economic times stress can be overwhelming, but there’s a natural way to relieve depression and anxiety: EXERCISE!

Don’t just take my word for it. Researchers from Duke University and the Mayo Clinic agree exercise is an effective antidepressant. So, how does it work? Exercise triggers your brain to released “feel good” chemicals. We’re talking endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Doctors believe these are the same chemicals that make drugs like Prozac boost your mood.. Some physicians have even started prescribing regular exercise instead of drugs for mental health.

Of course it’s a discussion you need to have with your doctor and it’s a bad idea to stop taking prescriptions without your health provider’s permission. Exercise isn’t a cure all for everyone but i guarantee if you start a regular exercise program you’re going to see positive changes in your life. If you exercise regularly and still see symptoms of depression and anxiety interfering with your daily life it may be time to talk to a doctor about alternative.

I can tell you I’ve seen first hand that exercise can help improve symptoms of sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt and hopelessness. It’s all about getting moving, getting motivated, and sticking with it.

You really need 30 minutes of physical activity, 3 to 5 days per week to see a significant improvement in your mental health, and your physical fitness. But research shows even as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time can provide short bursts of improvement. It all boils down to the release of those “feel good” chemicals in your brain. I know it can be tough to get moving, especially when you’re stressed out.

It’s time to pencil yourself into that calender. Think of your daily exercise as an outlet, “me” time that no one can take from you. If you’re uncomfortable in the gym, there are alternatives to get moving and get that heart rate up. Start with some simple activities to get those quick bursts of “feel good” chemicals. Take a brisk walk after dinner or play basketball with your children after school. You can always build from there.

Exercise isn’t just good for your mind, it’s been proven to help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and a whole host of other diseases. Exercise can also help you sleep better which leads to increased mental function throughout the day.

If you’re ready to make a positive impact on your life, and your mental health, here are some tips to get started:

Find an activity you enjoy.
Make exercise a regular part of your routine.
Don’t look at it as a burden, instead think of it as a stepping stone to improved mental health.
Address your issues. Figure out what’s stopping you from exercising and make a conscious effort to change it!
Prepare for obstacles, and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. But get back up and start again.
If you stick to your goals you’re going to see improvement.

Omar Morales is a certified Personal trainer in Orlando and Orlando boot camp instructor.

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