Benefits of exercise on your mental health
When you’re struggling with mental health symptoms, it can be very difficult to start exercising. However, understanding how it will benefit you, as it gently holds your hand and brings you back to balance, can be very helpful. You can just start where you can, even if it just means walking for ten minutes around your own house.
If you’re not struggling with mental health symptoms, making exercise a non-negotiable part of daily life can be great for your overall mental health, improving focus, mood, and motivation!
How does exercise benefit mental health?
Exercise and movement are strong pillars of health in Ayurveda and functional medicine. The profound benefits on physiology cannot be ignored. How does this help your different systems?
1. Movement or exercise around the abdominal region promotes healthy digestion. Regular movements can strengthen your digestive system and improve elimination. Exercise and gravity facilitate the movement of food throughout your gastrointestinal tract. When your body moves, it improves circulation throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal system. it speeds up your metabolism, allowing you to use food for energy, and may also decrease digestive symptoms. Since the brain-gut connection is a major factor in all mental health, supporting gut health is integral to improving brain health and the spirit.
2. Since the lymphatic system does not have a pump, movement is essential to its functioning. This means that simply incorporating the right form of movement can reduce inflammation. Movement allows lymph to move through your lymphatic system, and it does this by contracting muscles and pushing lymph through lymph vessels. Your body’s lymphatic system and your brain’s lymphatic system play a key role in mental health.
In Ayurveda, kapha the imbalance and the accumulation of toxins, which are really linked to this lymphatic system, trigger symptoms like depression. By supporting the lymphatic system with exercise, you support your body in optimal detoxification and brain health.
3. The world we live in today is filled with multiple environmental toxins. You could be exposed to hair color, toxic fumes, mold, pollution, plastics, pesticides, chemicals, microwaves, smoking and more. Some people are more sensitive and quick to react to these exposures, and others are better able to manage their impact on the body. Many of them are also those who have no form of movement. Movement can make the difference in how you react to these environmental toxins.
4. Exercise releases BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor. Think of BDNF as a growth hormone for brain cells. Low levels of BDNF are associated with depression. Boosting BDNF also improves sleep, which is essential for mental health. Targeting some form of exercise is a great way to increase BDNF levels.
Exercise has several other mental health benefits, including maintaining proper body temperature, reducing stress levels, improving hunger, and lowering levels of systemic inflammation.
Where do you start to improve physical exercise to support your brain and mental health?
If you feel like your life is busy and you don’t have time to exercise, I can completely understand that. The first thing I want you to do is respect the fact that your life may be busy, but you matter.
1. If you’re having trouble getting started, start with a few walking or yoga. Getting started with yoga, in the comfort of your own home, where you can be dressed the way you want, is a simple step.
Yoga is wonderful for the flow of prana, and the disruption of the direction and flow of the five pranas in the body is part of the disruption of mental health. Stabilizing the flow of prana with yoga, where the effort can be minimal, but the benefits can be profound, that’s awesome!
2. Combining exercise with nature can be grounded and rooted. It’s hard in the times we live in now. If you have a park or garden within easy reach, then walking there barefoot is beneficial. Exercise doesn’t have to be excessive. It is very important to understand. Pushing the body too hard when it needs balance can be counterproductive. The movement must be organized specifically for you. Remember that in a world where you might be coaxed, coaxed, or teased into moving a certain way just because someone in your life finds it works for them, you really need to adapt it to your body.
3. If you already exercise and don’t have specific mental health symptoms, you can gently push your goals further. This can be walking longer each week or whenever you can. Focus on some form of stretching, strength work, and cardiovascular movements.
When it comes to mental health, inverted poses that reverse gravity have remarkable benefits.
4. The rotation of yoga, walking and strength training creates balance, where you get several benefits. Be flexible with the schedule so you can fit an exercise form in the middle of whatever you have. Just commit to getting started and staying consistent.
If you’re having trouble getting started and feeling a loss of energy, start by improving your diet, so it can support you with better energy. However, wherever you are with your mental health, just know that exercise is a game-changer. Start where it suits you, and be patient and loving with yourself!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)