Guest columnist Erin Troy is the YMCA of Greater Cleveland’s West Shore Family YMCA branch Wellness Director and Association Personal Training Specialist.
Exercise is often thought of as a way to improve physical health, but it can also have a significant impact on mental wellbeing.
There are a few ways that exercise can help improve mental health. One way is that it can help to reduce stress. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
Exercise can also help to improve sleep, which can also improve mental health. Additionally, exercise can help to distract us from negative thoughts and feelings. And it can give us a sense of accomplishment, which can boost self-esteem.
What are the specific mental health benefits of exercise?
The mental health benefits of exercise are many and varied. Some of the specific benefits include:
• Reduced stress and anxiety. Exercise can help to calm the mind and body, and it can also help to improve sleep.
• Improved mood. Exercise can help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. It can also help to boost self-esteem and improve cognitive function.
• Increased self-esteem. Exercise can help you feel better about yourself and your body. It can also help you to feel more confident and capable.
• Improved cognitive function. Exercise can help to improve memory, thinking and learning skills. It can also help to reduce the risk of dementia.
• Increased energy levels. Exercise can help you feel more energized and have more stamina.
• Reduced risk of chronic diseases. Exercise can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
How much exercise is needed to improve mental health?
The amount of exercise needed to improve mental health varies from person to person. However, most experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
They also recommend doing muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.
What are some tips for getting started with exercise?
If you are not used to exercising, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time and intensity of your workouts.
Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. It is also advisable to work with a personal trainer who can provide you with exercise, routines and tips to meet your individual needs.
Organizations like the YMCA have professional trainers who work with people every day to meet their health and wellness goals.
There are many different types of exercise, so find something you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. You can walk, run, swim, bike, dance or do any other activity that gets your heart rate up and your body moving.
The important thing is to be active most days of the week. If you can’t fit in a full workout, try to break it up into smaller chunks throughout the day. Even a short walk can make a difference.
Exercise is a great way to improve your mental health. If you are struggling with mental health problems, talk to your doctor about how exercise can help.
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