The Important Connections Between Physical Health and Mental Health

Something I see consistently in my practice is the lack of understanding of how our physical health impacts our mental health. Being physically healthy is becoming more and more intertwined with our mental health and more and more research is showing how important it is to incorporate physical exercise and physical health into our daily lives. As we incorporate physical exercise into our lives, we enhance our overall well being and quality of life. Here are some areas of impact. 

Reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety is probably the biggest impact of physical exercise. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the brain's natural painkillers and elevates mood. This is why after physical exercise we tend to feel really good about ourselves. All those happy feelings come from physical exercise. We can look at things in a more positive light. It can help you feel more energetic and positive about life. Even the sense of accomplishing a workout can achieve the same effect and build self esteem. The sense of accomplishment that comes from improving your physical abilities can translate into a more positive self-image and greater confidence in other areas of your life.

Another impact of physical health is the reduction of stress. We know that having stress is unavoidable, but how we manage our stress becomes a goal to accomplish in our daily lives. Physical activity reduces the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in our bodies. It’s ok to have those hormones present, but too much of them can cause harm to our bodies. 

Physical activity also improves areas of our physical health! Who knew! Contrary to what you might think, physical activity will actually give you more energy. It can help you feel less fatigued and give you more energy throughout the day. It can also help promote better sleep. Sleep is a vital part of physical health and if you aren’t able to get good sleep that impacts your day. It can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep and have deeper, more effective sleep. And when we get good sleep we are able to have better cognitive function. Our brains thrive on good sleep and without it our brains cannot function to their full potential. So physical exercise helps improve sleep, which helps improve brain function. Many times when my clients incorporate physical exercise into their daily routine, they find they are able to make better decisions, are more rational in their responses and have better mental clarity. 

Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can have profound positive effects on your mental health. From reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety to improving mood, reducing stress, enhancing cognitive function, and boosting self-esteem, the benefits are extensive and well worth the effort. So, my encouragement to you is to find an activity you enjoy, and start reaping the mental health rewards of regular exercise. Your mind will thank you for it.