We’ve all been through it, the dreaded pre-exercise blues. Not quite sure if you want to go through with it; there are a million other things you could be doing instead. But you know that you will feel better if you do exercise, and while removing the guilt of not exercising is partly the reason, there is a scientific basis for why exercise makes us feel better.
We all deal with stress from time to time, with some periods of our lives being more stressful than others. Everyone handles stress differently; some can cope with stress better than others, and some give in to the slightest bit of stress. Some use positive coping mechanisms like exercise and meditation, while others use negative coping mechanisms like substance use or other destructive behaviors. With all this increase in stress over recent years and decades, modern medicine has demonstrated within the past few years the effects stress can have on our physical and mental health, both long-term and short-term.
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.
One of the best changes I have seen in the medical community since I joined as a physical therapist is recognizing the importance of mental health and its impact on all aspects of our lives. The pandemic has increased the overall prevalence of depression and depression-like symptoms. This increase has led to many new individuals being unsure of how to take care of their mental health. Even though it will take a qualified practitioner to diagnose a mental health disorder properly, there are a few things that you can do to help prioritize your mental health.
As physical therapists, the physical component of health and wellness is easily understood and commonly discussed around injury prevention and rehabilitation. However, every day we treat patients that have also been affected by depression, anxiety, increased levels of stress, and low self-esteem due to injury and decreased functional ability. We strive to maintain a holistic approach to patient care and effectively serve the communities around us, remaining well acquainted with the benefits of exercise on mental health and wellness. Here are a few ways that exercise has been proven to boost our mental health.
As we continue to move through the season, we are looking at a very different world than a year ago. However, it is important to return to the familiar as the world continues to change. One of the most difficult things to do in unfamiliar times is to relax and enjoy moments. While we have all made changes, and continue to make changes, it is important to center ourselves and get back to doing the things which make summer so great! Here are a few tips to help bring us back to the present and help us appreciate the moments which make summers so enjoyable.
Many of us are currently facing more stresses and anxieties than we are used to and being forced to find new ways to cope and get our mental health under control. One method we may consider is utilizing physical activity and allowing the various intrinsic benefits to help us out. While the benefits are numerous, let’s look at a few key reasons to begin exercising for our sanity and mental health.
“Thats the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”- John Green
Early on in college, I decided in addition to majoring in physical therapy, I would also major in psychology. Why? I felt that if I was going to treat and understand the physical aspect of a person, I better understand a little bit about the brain, thoughts and emotion of an individual. After all, each of us is not just a body or a brain. We have both. Why is it that it’s readily accepted as the “norm” if you mention you have knee arthritis or back pain, however, it becomes taboo to discuss the psychology or emotion that may be involved with that pain? I firmly believe that the psychology of what one is experiencing is extremely important to discuss and address. (more…)