BOOST! How exercise improves mental health

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It’s not news to anybody that physical activity can make you feel good. From strengthening the heart and bones to increasing muscle tone and reducing body fat, we know that movement is good for physical health, but what about mental health? Endorphins are released when we exercise and regular physical activity has been proven, in a number of studies, to reduce stress. Other less obvious results are improved sleep and better self-esteem, from both feeling stronger and looking better. It seems that there is no end to the good exercise can do.

Slowing memory decline
In late adulthood, the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, shrinks.   This leads to increased risk of dementia and impaired memory. Studies show that the brains of people who get regular exercise, see a reversal of the loss of volume related to aging. Exercise in people ages 25-45 helps to increase the chemicals in the brain that prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus.   Increased physical activity can strengthen the brain against the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s. Working out also improves brain performance and creates new brain cells.

Exercise and addiction
For people recovering from addictions, relapse can be a big problem. Research shows that a healthier overall lifestyle can help minimize relapse. As with drugs, the body releases dopamine with exercise. Working out can help reduce cravings for people in recovery. Exercise also helps with resetting the circadian rhythms helping recovering addicts to return to regular sleep patterns.

Physical activity relieves anxiety and stress
Modern life seems full of stress, in fact, about seven out of ten adults in the U.S. claim to experience anxiety every day. Although it is not possible to completely eliminate stress from our lives, there are many useful tools to help us manage stress and keep it at reasonable levels. One of the most effective ways to cope with stress is to incorporate regular exercise into your life. Exercise helps to improve sleep and getting enough sleep can play an important role in reducing anxiety. Regular aerobic activity can release tension and stabilize mood.

Get moving today!
Some great types of exercise:

  • Aerobics
  • Bicycling
  • Tennis
  • Walking, Hiking, or Jogging
  • Yoga

Working out has all kinds of benefits, it impacts the body, mind, and spirit. From relief of stress to improvement of brain functioning, adding more exercise to your lifestyle can help you feel and function better.

References
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-04-genes-people-depression-benefit.html
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21282661
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829243/
http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

 


About Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.:

Established in 2002 and headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, BHPI is a Managed Behavioral Health Organization offering behavioral health services through a fully integrated network of world class healthcare providers.  Our emphasis is on adding value for our customers by offering expert behavioral care management, medical coordination, and behavioral disease and chronic behavioral condition management.  BHPI offers collaborative solutions by building strong partnerships with health plans, health systems, community mental health organizations, and employer groups.   For more information visit: BHPI.org