We all know that daily exercise is good for your physical health, but what about your mental health?
According to numerous studies, aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, and dancing, have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, as well as improve cognitive function and self-esteem.
Though exercise is beneficial to all people with mental health issues, researchers found that it is especially important in patients with schizophrenia, due to the additional risk of weight gain associated with antipsychotic treatment, especially with the atypical antipsychotics.
According to research published in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, under the title, “The benefits of an exercise program for people with schizophrenia: a pilot study”, patients suffering from schizophrenia who participated in a 3-month physical conditioning program showed improvements in weight control and reported increased fitness levels, exercise tolerance, reduced blood pressure levels, increased perceived energy levels, and increased upper body and handgrip strength. The study found that just 30 minutes of exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for 3 days a week, was sufficient enough for the patients to experience significant health benefits. Even better, researchers concluded that in order to get the mental health benefits of exercise, the 30 minutes need not be continuous- three 10 minute walks are just as beneficial as one 30 minute walk.
As for the benefits of exercise for those suffering from anxiety and depression, there is an abundance of research demonstrating the benefits of exercise as part of a treatment plan, that goes back for hundreds of years. Since the early 1900s, researchers have been interested in the association between exercise and depression, and early case studies conclude that moderate-intensity exercise is clearly beneficial for depression and anxiety.
Even better, research also suggests that the benefits of exercise’s involvement in the treatment of mental illness, may be long lasting. According to results published in Preventative Medicine, depressed adults who took part in a fitness program displayed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than those in a control group after 12 weeks of training. The exercise participants also maintained many of these gains through the 12-month follow-up period.
So we know that exercise can boost feelings of well-being, and help in the treatment of mental health issues, now what?
Gym memberships can be expensive, and winter is coming so the idea of taking a walk outside when it’s cold, might not be too appealing.
Exercise is more than walking outside or hitting the treadmill at the gym. Exercise can be as simple as cleaning your apartment for 30 minutes, dancing to your favorite songs, playing with your kids, cooking a nice meal, and cleaning up after. Just moving around a little more each day can make a big difference.
So start small. Walk to the mailbox and get the mail. Take the dog for a walk that’s just a little longer than usual. Or maybe take the dog for an extra walk today. Jog up some stairs in your apartment, walk around a shopping mall and enjoy the holiday decorations, whatever you do, just try and move for at least 30 minutes and enjoy it.
Exercise doesn’t need to be rigorous or difficult in order to be beneficial. So try different things. Mix it up. And enjoy the many benefits of exercise. You’re worth it.
For more ideas on exercises you can do without going to the gym, check out this article: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/simple-home-workouts#1