Improving your mental health can be as simple as moving your body. Exercise can improve your mood and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is also a great way to relieve stress.
Exercise can sometimes be a loaded term, especially for people who don’t like going to the gym. Luckily, you don’t have to become a bodybuilder to reap the mental health benefits. You are probably already doing some of the work. These are the reigning champions if you’re looking for the best exercises for mental health.
For more mental health advice, see how you can improve your mood without therapy and how to change your diet to benefit your mental well-being.
Why exercise for mental health?
Exercise makes you feel good about yourself. When I say exercise, I don’t just mean hitting the gym and pumping iron. Exercise is all that makes you move. You don’t have to leave your home to improve your mental well-being through physical activity.
Benefits of exercise on your mental health:
No type of exercise will unlock good mental health. It means you have the opportunity to find something that matches your life. There is no bar to respect – any amount of movement counts. However, the researchers note that more exercise will increase the gain.
Exercises to boost your mental health
For many people, walking is their hobby mental health exercise. It’s one of my favorites because it’s relatively low impact and you can do it anywhere. Walking can help relieve stress, relieve symptoms of anxiety, and promote positive thoughts. If you want the best results, get outside and soak up the greenery. Nature walks have been found to reduce anxiety.
It doesn’t have to be a long walk; Studies show that just 15 minutes of walking can reduce your risk of depression by 26%.
If you’re looking for a more intense form of exercise for mental health, try running. Our brain is flooded with endorphins that improve our mood when we run. This is what people call the “runner’s high”. Studies have shown outdoor exercise to be an effective treatment alternative to antidepressants.
Regular running can also make it easier to fall asleep and improve sleep quality, which is essential for lowering anxiety And symptoms of depression.
Learn more: 5 great running apps to help you reach your fitness goals
Try strength training if you want the added benefit of building muscle while healing your sanity. It can reduce the risk of developing depression or relieve existing symptoms. You also get the satisfaction that comes with achieving strength goals.
Strength training doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights. You can easily develop your strength at home with free weights, resistance bands And your body weight.
Yoga not only helps get your body moving, but gives you a chance to reflect and meditate. That’s why we think it’s one of the best exercises you can do to improve your mental health. Focus on your breathing can eliminate bad mental health habits like thought loops and negative thoughts. Controlled breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which puts you in a relaxed state. It does this by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the counterpart of the sympathetic nervous system that controls the fight or flight response of the body. When you suffer from anxiety, your sympathetic nervous system is triggered, even though no danger exists. Yoga can help engage your parasympathetic nervous system to bring you back to homeostasis.
One of the best parts of yoga is the variety. You can choose the type you would like to do – from calm to more physically demanding.
Dancing is another exercise option that can significantly reduce anxiety. It can also increase self-esteem. Like yoga, you can choose the type of dance you’ll do – there are benefits for each. If you’re not a ballet dancer, try tango or flowing motion.
You don’t have to go to a dance studio to reap the benefits. You can take virtual dance classes from the comfort of your home. However, synchronized or choreographed group dancing can maximize results if you crave social interactions. Classes like Zumba have social benefits that other forms of exercise lack. They allow you to connect with others and form friendships.
Practical tips to start exercising for mental health
Getting started is the hardest part. Here are some strategies for making exercise an essential part of your routine.
- Choose an activity you enjoy: Try not to think of exercise as something you have to do. Instead, think of it as just another tool you use on your wellness journey.
- Set realistic goals: Going too far with exercise can have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if you set goals that you can’t reasonably achieve. Set small goals that you can build on as you grow. Remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.
- Reward yourself: Rewarding yourself for completing a workout is a great idea to make it a habit. It doesn’t have to be anything big – maybe an extra episode of your favorite show or a bubble bath.
- Make it a social thing: If you are someone who thrives when you have responsibilities, make your exercise a social activity with friends.
Exercise is a great tool for managing the day-to-day symptoms of mental health issues. However, exercise is not meant to replace therapy and medication for those who depend on it to function.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.