Connection Between Fitness and Mental Health

The Connection Between Fitness and Mental Health

by Tanner Neuberger, PT, DPT, TDN Level 1Leave a Comment

Taking care of yourself and your mental health continues to be at the forefront of priorities in 2022, especially with the increase in mental health symptoms noted since the start of the pandemic1. Exercise has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and prevent symptoms from forming2. It also has a strong correlation to preventing cognitive decline3. Exercise can reduce inflammation through various mechanisms/pathways and positively affect mental health and well-being4, among many other positive benefits. Now more than ever, it is important to take care of your mental health and prioritize it. Our bodies are designed to move, and as shown previously, it has a direct correlation to mental well-being. A relatively “easy” way to do that is through exercise.

The most important part about starting an exercise routine is finding something that you enjoy, as you will be more inclined to perform the activity consistently. For example, if walking around in nature is something that you know you enjoy, you can use that as your exercise source. You can vary the stimulus you give your body with the activity by manipulating your pace, walking duration, etc. However, if you are a person who does better with group motivation and accountability, it may be in your best interest to join a group exercise class. While it may be hard to get yourself moving, depression can make any task seem like climbing Mount Everest. Just trying to get up and walk for 5 minutes can be a great way to build some confidence and momentum to help take a personal approach to deal with a depressive episode. Take time to celebrate the small victories and understand that you are doing something worthwhile.

Consulting a primary care physician or mental health specialist is necessary when experiencing mental health issues. Take control of your actions and increase your physical activity to help provide an outlet to help assist your course of treatment. There is a clear connection between our mental health and our physical health, and to truly be healthy, we must take care of both regularly.

If you’re experiencing pain, injury, or any limitations that are preventing you from reaping the many health benefits of exercise, reach out to an Athletico near you for a Free Assessment. During your no-cost assessment, a licensed healthcare specialist will go over your condition and provide an expert recommendation to get you on the path to recovery. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Xiong J, Lipsitz O, Nasri F, et al. Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the general population: A systematic review. J Affect Disord. 2020;277:55-64. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2020.08.001
2. Dishman, R. K., Heath, G., Schmidt, M. D., & Lee, I. M. (2022). Physical activity epidemiology. Human Kinetics.
3. Colcombe S, Kramer AF. Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: a meta-analytic study. Psychol Sci. 2003;14(2):125-130. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.t01-1-01430
4. Mikkelsen K, Stojanovska L, Polenakovic M, Bosevski M, Apostolopoulos V. Exercise and mental health. Maturitas. 2017;106:48-56. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.09.003

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