Physical Fitness to Fight Depression and Anxiety | Guest Post by Jane Sandwood

Person jumping in front of a sunset

Exercise is an efficient and natural way to treat and fight depression, and in some people, it is even as effective as antidepressants. A person’s level of physical fitness may play a part in preventing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is believed that engaging in high levels of physical activity may enhance levels of well-being, preventing mental health problems.

The Relationship between Physical Activity and Mental Health

Past research has demonstrated that there is a link between physical activity and mental well-being. As you exercise, your body goes through physiological changes. The heart rate increases, boosting blood supply to the brain. Physical movement also encourages the growth of new blood vessels, which are essential to carry blood to all parts of the body. Furthermore, exercise triggers the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. One of these chemical messengers is serotonin, which has a positive influence on mood and depression. Also known as the ‘happy chemical,’ serotonin impacts the levels of happiness and anxiety. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, as well as poor memory and low mood. They may also cause low self-esteem, anxiety and aggression.

Exercise Can Prevent Mental Health Problems

A study conducted by Marc Ashley Harris focused on physical activity’s effect on the mental condition of a person. The author studied physical activity as an intervention to help people with psychological issues. Harris found out that mental well-being is correlated to the level of physical movement. The findings suggest that low and medium cardio-respiratory fitness are linked to a higher rate of mental health disorders, while a high cardio-respiratory fitness is associated with lower rates. The study supports the link between exercise and mental health and its possible role in preventing the onset of psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. Physical activities and training also affect muscle growth and tone. Muscle tone is important because it is responsible for posture, balance and control, and even the prevention of certain diseases. It also improves overall appearance, enhances self-confidence, and is a source of energy. Strengthening your body and developing muscle can be achieved by following a healthy diet, the use of supplements, exercise and physical training, all of which improve physical and mental health, and provide the strength to engage in mood-boosting activity.

Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health

The evidence linking the benefits of exercise to mental health is gaining ground. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins that improve the mood and mental disposition. Exercise or physical activity takes your mind off things, contributing to an upbeat disposition. It is also a way to deal with stress. Being physically fit reduces the chances of getting sick or contracting debilitating illnesses, which can already improve your disposition in life. At a minimum, exercise relieves the symptoms of depression and anxiety by triggering positive feelings that contribute to overall well-being. Structured exercise or physical activity can help you focus, and provides exposure to social connections, whether it’s cardio training at the gym or a quick run in the park, reducing social isolation and segregation.

While no one can change the genetic causes of mental illnesses, there are things that you can do to improve mental and health well-being. Simple yet effective interventions such as training, exercise and physical activity can reduce the prevalence of anxiety and depression.