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The Link Between Exercise And Mental Health: How Staying Active Can Boost Your Mind

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores the link between exercise and mental health.

“We all know exercise is good for us, but it’s not just about keeping our bodies in shape.

“Exercise isn’t simply about aerobic ability and muscular mass. Sure, exercise may enhance your physical health and physique, reduce your waistline, increase your sex life, and even extend your life. However, it does not drive most individuals to keep active,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“People who exercise regularly do so because it gives them a great feeling of well-being. They have more energy throughout the day, better sleep at night, clearer memory, and a calmer and happier attitude towards themselves and their life. It’s also an effective treatment for many common mental health issues.”

The Link Between Exercise and Mental Health

Regular exercise may significantly improve sadness, anxiety, and stress. It also enhances memory, promotes better sleep, and improves general mood. You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to gain the advantages. According to research, even small quantities of physical activity may significantly impact your mental health.

Exercise and Depression

According to studies, exercise may cure mild to moderate depression as efficiently as antidepressants – but without the adverse effects. For example, research by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered that running 15 minutes per day or walking for an hour lowers the risk of severe depression by 26%. In addition to treating depression symptoms, research suggests that sticking to an exercise plan might help you avoid relapse.

Exercise is an effective depression treatment for numerous reasons. Most significantly, it produces a variety of changes in the brain, including neuronal development, decreased inflammation, and new activity patterns that enhance sensations of calm and well-being. It also creates endorphins, powerful chemicals in the brain that improve your mood.


Exercise and Stress

Have you ever noticed how your body reacts when you’re stressed? Tense muscles, headaches, chest tightness, a racing pulse, and muscular cramps can all be physical signs of stress. Physical exercise relaxes the muscles and relieves tension in the body. Because the body and mind are inextricably connected, so does your mind when your body feels better.


Exercise, PTSD, and Trauma

Evidence suggests that focusing on your body and how it feels while exercising may help your nervous system get “unstuck” and begin to move away from the immobilisation stress response that characterises post-traumatic stress disorder or trauma. Instead of letting your mind wander, concentrate on the sensations in your joints, muscles, and insides as you move. Walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, and dancing are great cross-movement activities.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Experts suggest getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day. But remember, it’s not just about hitting the gym—everyday activities like walking to the store, gardening, or even doing chores around the house count. The key is to find something you can do regularly and make it a part of your daily routine.

Getting Started

If the thought of starting an exercise routine feels daunting, don’t worry. The trick is to start small and build up gradually. Begin with simple activities that fit into your day, like a stroll around the neighbourhood or choosing the stairs over the escalator.

Don’t have a gym membership? No problem. There are plenty of ways to get active without spending a penny. Go for a walk in your local park, try out free exercise videos online, or join a community sports group.

Overcoming Obstacles

Lack of time, feeling self-conscious, or struggling with motivation can hinder getting into a new exercise routine. But with a few simple strategies, you can overcome these hurdles. Try breaking your exercise into shorter sessions, working out with a friend for support, or choosing activities you can do in the privacy of your home.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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