Mental health and fitness

Mental health and fitness

by Ashley Tan 14 Nov 2017

It’s no secret that mental health and physical fitness are connected, but it’s still common for many of us to neglect the former. While it’s pretty easy to observe physical fitness, the obscure nature of the mind makes it hard to identify and address mental health-related issues. Fortunately, following a regimen that keeps your body in tip-top shape may prove to be just what the doctor ordered.

 

Physical exercise is essential for a more alert and agile mind, as it helps to increase the flow of oxygen to your brain while releasing greater amounts of “feel-good” chemicals known as endorphins. This is why individuals who engage in physical activities are more likely to view challenging situations in a more positive light to keep the stress at bay. In fact, while chronic anxiety requires clinical treatment, research from the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine has found that physical activity is also effective in reducing anxiety.

 

Apart from eliminating negative emotions, regular exercise can also stimulate and unleash creativity. A Dutch study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience revealed that people who exercise regularly are also better at creative thinking. So, if you find yourself facing a mental block at work, it may be beneficial to take a break and go for a short run. Who knows – an ingenious idea may come to mind when you return from your workout!

 

If you’ve found yourself cavilling at the fact that you seem to possess an aberrantly short-term memory, then you’d be glad to hear that another benefit of physical activity is that it can actually improve memory and other cognitive functions. A study published in Physiology and Behaviour revealed that subjects who engaged in strenuous exercise performed significantly better in a memory task than those who did not exercise. Other studies have also shown that individuals who are more physically active have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. So, if you’re looking for ways to spruce up your memory such that you’re able to retain information more effectively, then exercise may be the solution to your problems!

 

At this point, you may be wondering whether there exist activities other than physical exercise that you can engage in to help keep mentally fit. Well, some approaches to improve your mental fitness include focusing on one task at a time to increase your concentration instead of constantly attempting to multi-task, immersing yourself in new experiences that are not usually part of your routine to keep your brain active, or taking more time to read as doing so allows your imagination to run wild while serving as a form of relaxation to keep your mind off tense or overwrought thoughts.

 

You may not be a fan of math and mental sums, but there is little to dispute when it comes to the formula of a healthy body, combined with a healthy mind, equates to a happy life. Keeping your body in shape may be crucial, especially as you grow older and progress on to different stages of your life, but ensuring that you take the time to mind your mind is just as – if not more – important.

 

References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-disease/faq-20057881
  2. https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/mind-body/feeling/mental-health-tips/?page=7
  3. http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/mental-fitness#overview1