Physical fitness and mental health

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We live in a time where we are exposed to a multitude of stresses especially living in an ever growing competitive world. These pressures often lead to exhaustion and burnout which can quickly lead to other symptoms of mental illness. Having too much on our daily schedule and not allowing enough time to complete each tasks can cause the cortical, the stress hormone, to become unbalanced, causing you to feel fatigued and having muscle stiffness making it difficult to relax. When your cortisol level is constantly up this impacts your sleep, your mood, your sex drive and other major parts of our body.

It is reported that over 1000 medical articles show the benefit of physical exercise on several types of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, pi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. It has also been reported that treatment for depression, along with exercising regularly, has lead to faster recovery in symptoms for some individuals. Also, exercises reportedly increase the circulation to the brain and the production of endorphins. Endorphins belong to a series of chemicals and hormones that make you feel good, help you relax, ease pain naturally and help you sleep better.

Keeping physically active reportedly helps to adjust the cortisol levels and to regulate our body’s production of adrenaline which helps the body to deal with stress. By exercising regularly, you can think of burning stress like burning calories because you are burning off the feeling of stress that made you feel tired initially.

Research has reportedly shown that aerobic exercises relieve the symptoms of anxiety and vigorous exercise relieves the symptoms of depression. Another study has revealed that a short 8 minute work out a day could help decrease sadness, tension and anger. Exercises also help to build self-esteem.

Exercise tips:

Exercising 20 minutes a day or 30 minutes 3 times a week will make you feel rejuvenated.

If you are pressed for time, moderate to vigorous exercises for 10 minutes can raise your endorphin levels for one hour. Activate your endorphins by taking a brisk walk, by playing outside with your children or your pet(s) or dance to your favorite music.

Yoga is a wonderful exercise that brings balance to our body, mind and spirit. Yoga postures accompanied with deep breathing exercises facilitates the reduction of stress at a physical and psychological level allowing a shift of focus within ourselves.

Increase your motivation by exercising with a friend, go to an exercise club, attend fitness classes and get a personal trainer.

Keep a journal of the reasons why you want to exercise such as personal and emotional incentives to stay active. Put them in categories and pick physical activities that will help you achieve your goal.

Get out there and exercise. You will notice an overall feeling of well being, increase your sense of confidence and achieve emotional stability.

“Keeping Health in Mind” is a monthly newspaper column made possible with the help of the Lannin Business Centre, the Winchester Press, Seaway News and brought to you in part by: The Mental Health Programs of the Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall.

Organizations: Lannin Business Centre, Winchester Press, Seaway News Cornwall Community Hospital/Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall

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  • Diva Livingston
    July 05, 2011 - 17:10

    I have never embraced working out because it was work, just like not being attuned to weight lifting as weights are heavy. I do walk and notice that I feel less distracted by things I can't change. Three pound weights in each hand overall help with the bat wings I detest. Exercise is for everyone and so is good eating habits to stay healthy. Thanks for a bit of motivation to get me out there.

  • Prof. Don Abrams
    July 05, 2011 - 11:53

    Old-fashioned walking for fitness is deceptively powerful . . . and need not be boring. Particularly with a pedometer . . . and to add further motivation . . . using a Magic Ski Pole with comfortable wrist weights.. The Magic Ski Pole is simply an imaginable cross-country ski pole that reaps the full benefit of walking by preventing “lazy arms”. It automatically ‘clicks’ cleanly at the heart level when briskly swinging the arms. Normally only one Magic Ski Pole need be grasped. No snow? No problem. Magic Ski Pole Walking—think cross-country skiing without skis or the poles —is a full-body workout that burns more calories than regular walking. As a result the walker receives the full upper body strengthening and building power of the exercise. Magic Ski Pole Walking is youthful and natural in appearance. If interested . . . Google it. Walking may not be a competitive sport but it has a huge trophy . . . health and longevity. I find that I’m now walking smarter - not harder. A great introduction to walking for fitness. Walking is also deceptively powerful . . . and need not be boring. Particularly with a pedometer . . . and to add further motivation . . . using a Magic Ski Pole. The Magic Ski Pole is simply an imaginable cross-country ski pole that reaps the full benefit of walking by preventing “lazy arms”. It automatically ‘clicks’ cleanly at the heart level when briskly swinging the arms. Normally only one Magic Ski Pole need be grasped. No snow? No problem. Magic Ski Pole Walking—think cross-country skiing without skis or the poles —is a full-body workout that burns more calories than regular walking. As a result the walker receives the full upper body strengthening and building power of the exercise. Magic Ski Pole Walking is youthful and natural in appearance. Walking may not be a competitive sport but it has a huge trophy . . . health and longevity. If interested . . . Google it. I find that I’m now walking smarter - not harder.