The Importance of Fitness on Mental Health
Everyone knows that exercise is good for mental health and brain function, but did you know that a lack of exercise has been clinically shown to lead to mental illness? Recent medical studies indicate that the mind/body connection is much stronger than most people realize. According to experts, a lack of exercise has been linked increased risk of developing dementia, depression, and anxiety. Most people are aware of the fact that physical exertion increases the flow of blood-flow and oxygen to the brain, which makes people more resilient and improves brain function, but most people still don’t know just how powerful the effects of exercise can have on the mind! Even those who already have some form of mental illness can benefit greatly from what experts are now calling, “exercise therapy”. In fact, exercise therapy has been shown to be so strong, that it was even used to effectively improve mental functioning in patients with schizophrenia!
Exercise and Depression
Exercise has been shown to reverse clinical depression. A study conducted at Duke University compared the therapeutic effects of exercise against placebo sugar pills, and the anti-depressant medication Sertraline, a known Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI). The results showed that exercise had greater therapeutic value on the depressed patients than the placebo or the anti-depressant drug. In fact, at the end of the study, 40% of the patients were no longer depressed. In these cases, exercise alone has been shown to actually have cured the depression. It is important to note that in addition to increasing blood-flow and oxygen to the brain, exercise increases the neurotransmitters called endorphins to the brain, which makes people feel good.
When most people think of exercising to treat a condition like depression, they may get the image of working out every day for the rest of their lives, but experts say that the routine isn’t as rigorous as people might expect. According to one study, the positiv
e effect of exercise on mood was significant after only 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity. The study showed that people start to feel better in just 25 minutes of exercise. In addition to treating depression, physical exercise has also been shown to help with patients suffering from anxiety.
Exercise and Intelligence
Finally, medical researchers at Boston University, School of Medicine found conducted a study in 2013 which suggests that certain hormones associated with endurance exercise increase neuro-cognitive functioning, which not only improved memory, but it also increased learning capacity.
While it is common knowledge that the brain and body are connected, and that physical exercise for the brain is also good for the body, people fail to realize full gravity of just how important the mind/body connection actually is. Physical exercise has been shown to improve blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which improves mood and mental alertness. Exercise has also been shown to improve anxiety symptoms, treat people with schizophrenia, and even in some cases, to reverse depression. Finally, exercise not only makes you more resilient in terms of mental health, it also increases your cognitive functioning, which in turn, increases your intelligence.