Excercising for Mental Health

By Dashamelle Bowie Russ

You do a lot of things for your mental health. Usually, the first thing that comes to mind, when someone brings up mental health, is some sort of mental health provider or medication. We often do not consider how holistic approaches can have benefits to increasing, improving, and maintaining your mental health. Holistic approaches on the overall well-being of the whole person, not just their mental health. These holistic approaches can include, but are not limited to, supplements, food, social supports, spiritual practices, journaling, and physical activity. This blog post will focus on how the holistic approach of how engaging in physical activity/exercise can improve mental health by creating a routine, reducing stress, and releasing endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, and improve your confidence. Your confidence can improve because your mood improves from the release of endorphins.

Intentional Investigation

Exercise can look the way you want it to look or the way you need it to look. Exercise can be walking or jogging (treadmill or outside), yoga, boxing, fitness boot camps, pilates, biking, dance, swimming, etc. You can also take your time to try different methods of exercise, to find what you like and maybe have a routine that has a combination of different exercises. Personally, I have a workout routine that consists of yoga, pilates, and personal training (HITT workouts, boxing, and strength training). A great way to figure out what you like is to find YouTube workout videos, workout/fitness apps, or find deals at different fitness studios. For example, if you live in a metropolitan area, your local yoga and/or pilates studio may have an introductory pass. Oftentimes these passes are weekly, you can attend unlimited classes during the week, and the cost usually ranges from $20 to $35.

It Takes A Village

I shopped around for my exercise to support my mental health, just like I encourage people to shop around for or date therapists. It is important to ensure it is a right fit because everything and everyone is not for everybody. In two instances, not only did I find two great places to workout, I have found great friends with similar goals about health. When you are at your workout facilities, there are many opportunities for social interactions and friendship building. One day you are making small talk; the next week you are coordinating attending the same classes together; and, before you know it, you have made a friend to hangout with outside of the workout facility. If you did not know, I am here to tell you that human interaction and connection is good for your mental health.

And What Else?

Having a regular exercise routine can improve your sleep patterns. When you add a physical activity to your routine, your body will tell you that it needs to rest to recover. In addition, if you have early exercise classes or routines, it will encourage you to get to bed earlier. Along with improved sleep, having a regular exercise routine will influence you to create other routines throughout the day. Exercise can be used alone to assist with combating anxiety and/or depression. It can also be used in combination with your anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication, if medication is a part of your mental health treatment plan. I encourage you to discuss with your therapist how exercise can help improve your mental health, if you would like to know more about the benefits of exercise on your mental health. If you do not have a therapist, check out my profile under the “Our Practice” tab in the “Team” link. You can then contact our office to schedule an appointment with me today! I hope to see you soon.