There’s an undeniable connection between the body and brain. Researchers have proven this time and time again by showing that physical activity supports mental health. People who exercise regularly consistently have lower rates of mental illness and higher levels of emotional wellbeing.
But how exactly does physical activity affect the brain and our emotions? In what ways can exercise improve mental health and support therapies like at-home ketamine treatments? Let’s delve into the topic deeper so you can gain a better understanding of how physical activity can be used to make mental activity more positive.
The Connection Between Physical Health and Mental Health
If your body isn’t in the best shape it’s going to have a negative impact on your mental state and vice versa. It’s so impactful that an injury can cause someone to develop depression. The problem is depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders can take a toll on your physical health as well and cause people to limit exercise.
It’s a problematic cyclical effect that can be hard to break. The issue is particularly troublesome when you consider that people with a mental illness are already at a higher risk of developing health problems like heart disease.
Meta analysis has found physical activity has direct and indirect effects on mental health. It’s so impactful your past physical health can have an impact on your current mental health.
Exactly why this is isn’t totally clear. We know that exercise releases endorphins in the brain like endogenous cannabinoids that can promote a general sense of well-being. Exercise can also be a positive distraction that takes your mind off of your worries, giving your brain a much-needed break.
Researchers are conducting more detailed controlled studies that examine a broader population of people to look more closely at the mechanisms that are involved. Most likely there is a holistic effect that’s happening. All of the positive effects of physical activity collectively can lead to changes in a person’s mental health and support other healthy lifestyle choices that further influence mental wellbeing.
5 Specific Ways Physical Activity Improves Mental Health
At Choose Ketamine our goal is to help people make transformative changes that dramatically improve mental health. That means making healthy lifestyle choices that support the positive effects of ketamine treatments. There are a lot of ways that physical activity improves health in general. However, there are some key ways that exercise has been shown to directly improve mental health.
The clearest sign that physical activity is good for the brain is seen in how it impacts mood. People report having an elevated mood after working out. The mood-enhancing effect starts after just five minutes of exercise. Studies have shown that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants for improving mood, and it can actually help prevent relapses of depression.
Anyone who is dealing with anxiety, PTSD or OCD should make time for exercise. It may be putting good stress on your muscles, but physical activity relaxes the mind. Studies have measured physical changes that prove exercise reduces stress. In addition to stress, physical activity has been shown to decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and tension. What’s great about this is that less stress is good for the body too, which encourages you to keep exercising.
Increased Energy and Alertness
Mental illness can zap every bit of your energy, even on days when you barely get out of bed. Fatigue is actually a physical symptom of illnesses like depression. When you feel drained it’s very hard to find the motivation to get active, but that’s exactly what your body and brain needs. It turns out exercising increases energy levels and can make you more mentally alert.
That enhanced mood may be the result of more confidence. You might not be working out to lose weight or gain muscle, but it’s a residual benefit that can give people a confidence boost. A healthy level of confidence is extremely important for combating mental illness because it helps you stay in a more positive mental state and avoid ruminating. When you feel better physically, you’re going to feel better mentally.
We’ve discussed the importance of getting quality sleep for improved mental health, but getting a good night’s rest can be difficult for anyone. Although physical activity can improve energy levels during the day, it also makes it easier to get to sleep at night. Actually, part of the reason why you’re so much more energized and alert from exercising is because it helps you sleep better.
Exercise increases body temperature, which calms the brain and prepares you for sleep. It also helps to regulate your circadian rhythm so it’s easier to get asleep and stay asleep.
GOOD TO KNOW: Improved mental and physical wellbeing leads to more physical activity. It’s a positive cyclical effect that’s the exact opposite of what can happen if a mental illness develops.
The Amount of Physical Activity That’s Needed to Support Mental Health
It’s obvious that physical activity is beneficial for your mental health. But the question you may be asking is, how much physical activity is needed to make a difference?
It turns out it doesn’t take much to get a mental boost from moving your body. In fact, you don’t want to overdo it because excessive exercise could cause negative psychological symptoms similar to depression.
Many health experts suggest trying to get 30 minutes of physical activity at least 3-5 days a week. Even doing 10-15 minutes a day of high-intensity exercises can be enough to improve your mental health. The best part is the mental health benefits that come from physical activity don’t require wearing yourself out at the gym doing exercises you hate. Simply walking around your neighborhood can have a noticeable effect on your mental health. All that really matters is you’re up on your feet getting your heart rate higher than normal.
To really max out the mental health benefits, consider joining a sports league or participating in an exercise class. Increased social interaction is one of the indirect mood-boosting benefits that can come with physical activity.
Discover How Ketamine Treatments Can Support Your Mental Health
For some mental health disorders physical activity isn’t enough to completely ease symptoms. Learn how at-home ketamine therapy works to enhance your treatment plan and improve your mental health, even if other therapies haven’t worked.
Take our ketamine therapy assessment to find out more.