Most of us are aware of the many physical benefits of exercise, like improved cardiovascular health, stronger muscles, and better quality of sleep. But what about the impact of exercise on our mental health?
Research shows that physical activity can have a powerful effect on our mood, stress levels, and overall well-being. In honor of being the Finish Line Sponsor at the 2023 Fargo Marathon, our team at Rural Psychiatry Associates is dedicating this blog post to discussing five ways fitness and physical activity strengthen your mental health!
Mental Health Benefits of Physical Fitness
1. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Exercise is an effective remedy for managing stress and anxiety. It helps to break down the body’s “fight or flight” response and release endorphins – chemicals in the body that act as natural painkillers. Research shows that even just five minutes of aerobic exercise helps decrease tension in the body and calm your mind.
2. Better Memory and Cognitive Function
Regular physical activity helps regulate blood flow to the brain, which in turn enhances memory and cognitive function. Studies indicate that physical activity can even stimulate the production of new brain cells and improve the brain’s ability to form new neural connections. This can be particularly beneficial for aging adults and those at risk for cognitive decline.
3. Enhanced Mood
In addition to releasing endorphins, working out can help to reduce levels of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone. This can lead to a more positive outlook and improved emotional well-being. Plus, setting and achieving fitness goals provides a sense of accomplishment and helps to improve self-confidence.
4. Increased Energy and Productivity
Consistent exercise helps combat fatigue and provide a natural energy boost. It’s also particularly effective in promoting workplace productivity – whether it’s a midday gym session or a lunchtime walk. This is especially true for people with ADHD, as physical activity increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, all of which help maintain focus and attention.
5. Lower Risk of Depression
Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of depression and other mood disorders. One study found that just 20 minutes of exercise per day, three days a week, makes a significant impact on reducing symptoms of depression for people of all backgrounds.
As these benefits illustrate, physical activity is a valuable tool in promoting mental health and well-being. If you’re not currently incorporating exercise into your routine, it’s never too late to start. Whether it’s a daily walk, a yoga class, lifting weights, or running, find an activity that you enjoy and that fits with your lifestyle. The effect it can have on your mental health – and your overall quality of life – is worth it.
See You at the Finish Line
Physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. That’s why Rural Psychiatry Associates is thrilled to be the Finish Line Sponsor of the 2023 Essentia Health Fargo Marathon! This weeklong celebration of physical fitness takes place May 15 – 20, 2023.
If you are participating in the marathon, come say “Hi!” to our team at our booth during the Expo and Packet Pickup 4 – 8 PM Thursday, May 18, and 10 AM – 8 PM Friday, May 19! We look forward to connecting with you all and celebrating your momentous accomplishment at the finish line!
For more information about the schedule of events for the Fargo Marathon, click here.