Moderate exercise can bring drastic changes to our physical health. Though it’s still not widely accepted, that the same effect can spill over to our emotions as well.
Despite more and more scientific journals confirming that there are benefits to mental health, a large portion of the human populace still tends to opt for medication, and subsequently, its side effects. There are undoubtedly circumstances where taking pills is a necessity, especially when depression and anxiety progress too much and cannot be countered otherwise.
However, this article aims to show you that, when it comes to prevention, fitness and exercise can be the greatest bulwark against stress and the degradation of mental health.
When it comes to gaining control over your emotions, most psychiatrists and stress researchers agree that preventive measures are a much more effective health strategy than treatment of already developed conditions (Vancampfort et al. 2015).
There are sufficiently successful methods of combating depression and anxiety, but when it comes to dealing with one of their main sources, stress, it’s much more prudent to cut it at the source.
This is where exercise comes into play. Acting not just as a great destresser, it also is a protector from any future hardships, both physical and mental. Fitness is a leash that you can put on your emotions, subdue them, and gain control of them before causing any damage to your well-being.
How fitness achieves this are multifold, so we’ll go over them one-by-one and explain why working out works great for your emotions!
We’ve already stated that moderate physical activity is enough for you to make an impactful change on both your physical and mental well-being. But what is a moderate-intensity activity?
A moderate-intensity exercise includes an activity that increases your heart-beats-per-minute (bpm) to 50-70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This can include such activities as fast walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle with some vigor. You don’t have to push yourself to the limit to claim the valuable benefits of exercise – you just need to start.
Moreover, it doesn’t really matter if you’re engaging in aerobic or anaerobic physical activity, both will push you equally in the right direction and have a positive impact on your emotions and perceived well-being.
There is one essential requirement of which you should be aware – you need consistency. About half of all people who begin a training regimen, or any exercise, usually give up before they can see change happen. It is crucial to keep mixing up the training regiment if it becomes too boring or ineffective, as that is one of the most common reasons people stop exercising (Palazzo et al. 2016). In other words, keep at it, no matter how much of a chore it is to you or how difficult it can get. It takes time to see the benefits of exercise on your emotional state, so make that your goal.
Now, we can get to breaking down all the positives you can extract from frequent exercise.
Better Quality Sleep
Different sources rate sleep on different levels, but we would like to place it on the pedestal of getting more control over your emotions.
Perhaps the most critical impact of regular exercise on your emotions and mental health comes in the form of a much better quality of sleep. Besides giving your body and mind a much-needed rest, you also ensure that you’ll have increasingly more energy tomorrow.
With exercise, you’ll be able to fall asleep much faster than usual and sleep better. Make sure not to work out close to your bedtime because it will only have an opposite effect to the one you’re trying to achieve since your energized body is ready for more activity.
Proper sleep will give you a fighting chance against stress and negative emotions. It will also help your body build resilience to stressors and your ability to deal with them.
More Energy to Spare
Not only will you have more energy available due to better quality sleep, but fitness will also provide you with additional energy to spend throughout the day.
People try to find ways to avoid exercise and provide their body with energy from various sources such as coffee, refined sugars, or, worst of all, energy drinks.
While these provide an immediate boost to your energy levels necessary to complete some tasks, they’re also highly addictive. This artificial method of upping your energy will leave you asking for more, as your body will come to rely on these outside energy sources. When you don’t get your ‘fix,’ you become irate and come one step closer to losing control over your emotions.
Instead, with just moderate exercise, you’ll get your body to convert the healthy food you eat into energy with greatly improved efficacy. You’ll have both the strength and willpower to take charge of how you feel and steer your emotions in the right direction.
Relieving Chronic Stress
If you’re constantly feeling stressed and it has become somewhat of a recurring theme for you, it’s high time to take action.
Chronic stress is the leading cause of some of the worst diseases out there, both physical and mental. Researchers into the subject have revealed that you can face chronic stress by changing how you spend your leisure time (Biddle, Fox & Foucher 2000).
While it would seem easier to just destress by watching TV or browsing the web, it is the sedentary lifestyle that’s got us into all this trouble we’re in today – or, at least, it’s one of the biggest offenders.
Instead of just lying around, treat yourself to the great outdoors. Jogging and power walking will work wonders for your sense of well-being, especially if you do it as often as you can. This leisure-time workout will reduce the burden of chronic stress and make you feel much better.
Fitness Against Anxiety
With depression and anxiety plaguing modern society, finding the means to overcome them has become the pursuit of utmost importance in today’s world.
Physical exertion can help because it promotes the production of endorphins. The release of endorphin means you’ll generally feel happier and more content than usual. Endorphins also reduce inflammation in the brain and support neural growth. All of these bonuses come with the aforementioned moderate-intensity exercise proving that it helps with the effects of both the state and trait anxiety (Schlicht 2007).
All of these benefits can bring a measure of peace to someone with a mild case of depression and may help to replace medication altogether.
Finally, working out will get you outside of the house and into the waiting world.
You’ll get to spend more time away from your thoughts, which may preoccupy an idle mind. While introspection is an important aspect of personal growth, if tied to negative emotions, it can only harm. By going out and exerting yourself, you’ll be more ready to handle these emotions productively by building your self-esteem and improving self-image, which are common results of a slimmer, healthier body.
All the upsides of exercising have been laid here in front of you. This is precisely the weapon you need to stand up to all the stress and anxiety that have been building up inside you. The most difficult part will be to keep at it and not give up. However, by applying mindfulness to your exercise, i.e., listening to your body and focusing on what being fit will mean to you, you can climb any obstacle.
- The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
- What Are The Social And Emotional Benefits Of Physical Activity?
- Exercise Is an Important Aspect of Maintaining Emotional Health.
- The Emotional Benefits of Exercise – Feel Good with Go4Life