The physical benefits of exercise are easy to study as are the results; but what about the effects exercise has on the mind and our emotions?
Aerobic exercises boost neurotransmitters such as:
The chemical effects in the human brain from aerobic exercise also provide mental clarity, a sense of well-being, reduction with stress and anxiety and even depression. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine wrote a review regarding 25 studies of people who exercised regularly and found that even the low levels of movement (i.e. gardening and walking) were less likely to develop depression.
For patients with schizophrenia who are at a higher risk of obesity and weight gain due to the kinds of medications they must take for their illness; regular exercise is highly beneficial.
Suffering from PTSD or trauma? By focusing intensely on how your body feels with certain movements (i.e. yoga poses or lifting weights) helps the nervous system become “unstuck”. The same endorphins that make you feel better also provide a sharper memory, help with concentration, and stimulate new brain cell growth while preventing age related decline.
Other hypotheses suggest that regular exercise can serve as a distraction from life’s daily stress, provide self-efficacy, and even social interaction. By improving self-esteem and cognitive function; individuals who exercise for 30 minutes every day reduce their risk of developing so many ailments and disease that they actually lengthen their lifespan.
If you don’t feel comfortable going to a gym, there are so many options out there. Pick an activity you enjoy doing and allow you to just unplug from all of life’s distractions and focus on that specific task. Water walking is great for those who have decreased mobility and need a low-impact activity. Pokémon Go has been the one thing that makes going for extended walks with friends and family more exciting and certainly serves as not only a fun and social activity; it also gets me out of the house and exploring new places.
Jennifer Roldan massage therapist at Northwest Wellness in Federal Way