Sunday, December 16, 2012

Boosting mental health through regular exercises that can make anxiety and fear fly away

Title Picture
Beach Jogger. Credit:, Steve Crane
On TV, while watching a soap opera, a sudden commercial shows three muscular men with handsome faces. You take a look at yourself on the mirror; it makes you feel depressed. Some could go to the length of opting for steroids to get some results fast. Some would opt for the gym and start taking more exercises and muscle building tune-ups in order to appear handsome and athletic. Yes, it is on record that a sudden depression or anxiety due to one’s looks can be attributable to general anxiety disorder. General anxiety disorder (GAD) is a frequent and constant worry about things like one’s look, career, health etcetera which is disproportionate to the actual source of worry. By the way, such worry often interferes with daily life.

Taking to the gym because you want to look good is fine. But do you know that getting constant regular exercise like going to the gym can also improve your mental health? That is, it can help you stave off and cure problems like depression and anxiety disorders?

Two factors that are at work

Several studies have shown that adolescents who were physically inactive, who live sedentary lives or who perceive their bodies as either “too thin” or “too fat” were at greater risk of internalizing problems like depression and externalizing problems like substance abuse. By participating in organized sports, these youths can place themselves at a lower risk for mental health problems. Two factors are at work in this regard.

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The first factor that has been used to explain why exercises can boost your mental health is the self-image hypothesis. It suggests that the positive effects on body weight and body structure due to physical activity leads to positive feedback from peers and improves one’s self-image, thereby improving mental health. When you feel good about yourself because others make positive comments about how your recent regime of exercises makes your body look good, then you are making yourself healthy in the mind.

The second explanation for this relationship is the social interaction hypothesis. It explains the improved mental health from physical activity as being a result of the increased social relationship and mutual support received from peers or colleagues that contributes to exercises having an effect on mental health. This hypothesis tells us that people whom we respect and whom we care about make us do exercises because they give us positive comments while not realizing on the other hand that we are not only building a healthy social system, but also healthy minds.

Take a health assessment before choosing exercising regime

Many persons who read this article might be living sedentary lives because they work more with their minds than their hands. It cannot be helped. Yet, they can help themselves by taking to regular exercise regimes. Do not start though without seeking a medical health assessment where it is available. It is recommended that a weekly dose of 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intense activity like lifting weights is beneficial for one’s physical and mental health. When starting out, focus on the short term benefits of such exercising rather than the long term because the short term benefits like reducing stress, improving your mood, makes you sustain the exercising after a long period of time.

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So, whether you are a health care provider or a health enthusiast, use physical activity as a booster for your mental health. You could end up saving yourself lots of worry, fear and financial debts in the long run, if not depression and excessive anxiety right now.

(Related Post: Will She marry rich or poor? Wealthy women seeking sexual partners see no difference! )

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