Run, jog, and swim because exercise can do your mental health a world of good

Published on:8 January 2020, 14:58pm IST
It’s a truth often spoken but seldom incorporated: exercise and mental health go hand in hand. And if you still don’t believe us, read this to make working out a part of your routine.
Dr Samir Parikh
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Even 15 minutes of a workout that you enjoy can boost your mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We all know just how good exercise is for the body. But did you know that exercise and mental health also go hand in hand? Those who commit themselves to maintaining an active exercise routine often report feeling more energetic, charged to take on the day, have better regulated sleep and appetite, and in general report feeling more positive about themselves.

This is not to say that if you have been diagnosed with a mental health illness then simply exercising will take care of the problem. However, it does have the potential to contribute towards your feeling of well-being. In fact, exercising can also help you work through the impact of the illness alongside any other therapies you might be undergoing.

Also read: 5 foolproof exercises that will help you deal with jet lag better

That’s not all! Here are five ways in which exercise strengthen your mental health:

1. It contributes to higher energy levels
For those who feel lethargic or have low energy through the day, integrating exercise can help in increasing energy levels. Don’t worry if you can spend an hour each day working out. Even starting with a short duration of time of a light exercise is helpful, as long as you build it over time.

exercise and mental health
Exercise can reduce fatigue and increase energy levels. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. It helps enhance the quality of sleep
Exercising is known to help in the regulation of sleep patterns. Whether you prefer to exercise in the day or in the evening it is likely to contribute towards a better sleep cycle.

3. It contributes to your self-esteem
Being able to work out the way you like contributes to feeling good about yourself as you see the transformation, both in your body and your mind. This helps enhance your self-esteem through the achievement of the goals you set for yourself.

exercise and mental health
Working out regularly can also boost your self confidence. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. It contributes to your resilience
Exercise is a healthy way of coping with stress and pressure. It helps you build the skills to work on yourself while you keep working on the challenges you face in living your life instead of adopting unhealthy mechanisms like smoking, alcohol or using substances.

It is important to remember that any amount of exercise in a form that is convenient for you is good enough. You can always start with small goals and targets and build it up over a period of time. This allows you to habituate yourself to the new routing you are creating for yourself.

Do not look at what others around you are doing. Instead focus on yourself and do what works best for you and don’t get fazed by unsuccessful attempts at maintaining your exercise routine.

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Dr Samir Parikh Dr Samir Parikh

Dr. Samir Parikh is a psychiatrist and director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences and Fortis National Mental Health Program at Fortis Healthcare