How exercise can help our mental health

The premise is that if the structure changes, Prinsley says, the function improves.

Then there is the stimulation of neurotransmitters. Along with increasing the mood-stabilizing chemical serotonin, exercise sets up our stimulation circuits via dopamine, which is depleted in people with depression.

The release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) helps with neurogenesis, which is the formation and maintenance of cells in your brain, while higher levels of GABA, which has a calming effect, helps reduce anxiety. “So your brain as an organ is healthier than exercising,” explains Princely.

What exercise can’t do for our mental health

Mental illness is complex and results from a combination of factors from genetic predisposition to environmental and lifestyle factors, and their interactions throughout life, says Professor Anthony Hanan of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne.

“The beneficial effects of increased physical exercise have been shown in brain disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders,” Hanan says. However, exercise is not a ‘cure-for-all’.

There is “strong evidence” to support medication and psychotherapy, which should be continued according to a doctor’s advice. “However, the beauty of physical activity is that it can be combined with medical treatment or other lifestyle interventions,” Hanan says.

“Exercise won’t help you in a crisis,” Prinsley adds. “It is not all and the end of everything and it will solve all your problems. It is one of the ingredients in this recipe that will promote better mental health.”

How much do you want to do?

while the physical activity guidelines Recommending 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week, this may be unrealistic for anyone who is depressed, lacks motivation and finds it difficult to get out of bed. When that’s the case, Prinsley states that everything we do makes a difference: “Something is better than nothing and 10 minutes a day gives you good mental health benefits.”

What type of exercise is best for mental health?

To get the benefits of exercise, we have to do it regularly. For this reason, Hanan says, the best type of physical activity for our mental health is anything we enjoy, and can do safely. There is evidence to support different types of activity.

The benefits of brisk walking should not be underestimated.  Bernadette Fahey and Austin Campbell in Centennial Park.

The benefits of brisk walking should not be underestimated. Bernadette Fahey and Austin Campbell in Centennial Park.attributed to him:Janie Barrett

“Walking is a very healthy activity, and when done in natural environments (for example, ‘bathing in the woods’) it can have beneficial effects on mental health,” Hanan says.

Research indicates Aerobic exercises such as walking, running, and cycling have a similar effect to antidepressants, and can help ward off depression as well. review Posted in April It found that two and a half hours a week of brisk walking was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of depression.

The researchers suggested that this was due to inflammatory responses to activity and long-term changes in the brain. Additionally, improvements in self-esteem and body image can aid in social interactions and coping skills. Hanan says that exercising during social interactions can also enhance the positive effects:


“Social interaction is also good for the brain, so forms of physical activity that also include social interaction can have additional benefits.”

And while there is little research on resistance training, a growing number of studies indicate that our brain grows stronger along with our bodies. One Study 2018 It found resistance exercises “significantly reduced depressive symptoms” among the research participants. separate search, Posted in 2021found preliminary evidence of improvements in white matter volume in the prefrontal cortex and executive performance after resistance training. This is important double white matter Common in psychiatric conditions, including depression, stress, and anxiety-related disorders.

Finally, a mindfulness practice such as yoga or tai chi has its own benefits.

“You’re usually taught to pay attention without judgment and to be self-compassionate while you exercise,” Prinsley says. “You change the way you perceive a situation, yourself and your thoughts, and thus you allow your nervous system to calm down, and you allow your body to change its state based on how you think and feel mentally.”

Then there is the effect of our moving bodies that bring about physiological changes that affect our brain and mental health. It makes exercise, especially when we apply mindfulness to it, a way to feel better from top to bottom and bottom to top.

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