Exercise is often seen as a way to improve physical health, but its effects on mental well-being are often overlooked. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise in particular, can have a significant impact on mental health. Cardiovascular exercise is defined as any exercise that increases your heart rate and respiration. It can include activities such as walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, gardening, and dancing. These activities are often free and don’t require a lot of equipment, making them accessible to almost anyone.
Cardiovascular exercise has also been found to significantly improve mood and reduce anxiety. Studies have found that it can significantly improve symptoms of depression. Regular exercise can also have a positive impact on cognitive functioning by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain which helps to improve memory, focus, and concentration.
Exercise has also been found to be beneficial for sleep. Many people find that regular exercise can help to improve the quality of their sleep, as well as make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some people find that exercising too close to bedtime can be too stimulating and actually make it harder to fall asleep, so try not to exercise too close to bedtime.
Another benefit of regular exercise is that it can help to reduce social withdrawal. This is particularly important during the pandemic, as many people have been isolated due to social distancing measures. Regular exercise can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing a sense of community and social connection. Joining a group fitness class, a recreational sports team, or even going for a walk with a friend can be a great way to get some exercise and socialize at the same time.
Exercise is a powerful tool that in combination with other tools such as psychotherapy, eating healthily and getting enough sleep, plays a key role in maintaining good mental health. Whether you’re looking to reduce anxiety and depression, improve your cognitive function, or simply feel better in general, regular exercise can help.
Remember, the key is to find an activity that you enjoy and stick with it. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise over time. Speak to a physician or medical professional first if you have any underlying medical conditions, before you start. With consistency and dedication, you’ll be able to see and feel the benefits of regular exercise in no time.
For help on designing an exercise program that is right for you, or for any questions about how exercise can help you improve your mental well-being, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-241-5438.
B.Sc., Personal Trainer
Evan Wallman is a seasoned personal trainer at PathWell, with over 14+ years of experience specializing in empathetic fitness guidance and coaching