4 Ways Exercise Improves Your Mental Health

Here are four ways exercise improves you mental health and well being. When you exercise, you not only prevent physical diseases, but also mental ones too.

Everyone knows that exercise is good for the overall physical health. But exercise is also good for the mental health. For the past few decades, scientists have carried out numerous studies on how exactly exercise boosts brain function. We carried out an extensive research and rounded up four tested and scientifically proven ways exercising can help your brain.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

1.  Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can greatly interfere with enjoyment of life. According to American Psychological Association, one in seven adults report physical and emotional symptoms associated with stress. Fortunately, you can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety through exercise.

Exercise reduces stress in two distinct ways. First, it reverses the damage caused to the brain during stressful events by lowering the levels of circulating cortisol, a hormone that rises when we experience stress. Second, it enhances the production of hormones that are associated with
improved cognitive function and elevated moods.

There are several exercises you can do when you are stressed. You can do high-energy exercises such as dancing, running and roller skating. You can lift weights, swim and do Tai Chi. For effective results, combine these exercises with activities that take your mind off the stressful situation.
These include some reading, listening to music or watching TV.

2. Slows Down Cognitive Decline

Mental decline is a common condition among the older generation. Symptoms of mental decline may include trouble remembering names, poor coordination and balance, lack of concentration and increased irritability. More than 16 million people in the US have symptoms associated with cognitive mental decline.

Exercise can actually slow the rate of mental decline by up to 10 years. Exercising, especially between the age of 20 and 50, enhances the production of chemicals that prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus, a component of the brain that plays a key role in memory and learning.

Simple exercises such as walking in a park or riding a bicycle can make a big difference. Weight- training and endurance exercises can also bring positive results. These exercises should be done on a regular basis for optimum outcome. We recommend at least 20 to 30 minutes of continuous exercise three to four times a week.

3. Eliminate Depression

Depression is a common yet serious mental condition. It interferes with how a person thinks, feels and acts. One may feel very sad, lose interest or pleasure in activities he normally enjoys or feel guilty and unworthy. Some people may experience changes in appetite, develop thoughts of death and suicide or increase purposeless physical activities such as slowed speech, hand-wringing and fast movements.

When you are experiencing these symptoms, exercising is often the last thing on your mind. But once you get the motivation, exercise can change things for the better. Regular exercise helps in the production of feel-good chemicals that will change how you feel. These chemicals include
endorphins, neurotransmitters and endocannabinoids. Exercise reduces the chemicals within the immune system that are known to worsen the symptoms of depression. It also increases the heart rate and body temperature, which are known to have calming effects.

Apart from enhancing moods and reducing unwanted chemicals in the immune system, achieving exercising goals and overcoming challenges will boost your self-confidence and change how you feel about yourself. It will also take your mind off worries and help you cope with depression in a healthy way.

Not all exercises will yield the best results. We recommend yoga, running, hiking, dancing, strength-training and Tai Chi. Yoga is known for creating a calming effect. Strength-training will boost your self-esteem, make you feel better and improve the quality of your sleep. Dancing will help you express yourself physically and share with others your feelings. Running and hiking will trigger the production of endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals that make you a happy person.

Better Thinking

4. Better Thinking

Most people report that they tend to think more clearly after exercising. This is not far from the truth. According to scientists, when you exercise, your blood pressure and blood flow increase throughout your body. Due to the increased blood flow, your brain will get more oxygen and more
energy, improving its function and effectiveness in the process. Not to mention, the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for thinking, learning and memory, will get highly active during exercise.

Exercising can also improve your thinking skills indirectly by enhancing your moods and quality of sleep. It also reduces chronic stress and anxiety, which are known to cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. You can do almost any exercise to improve your thinking skills. But aerobic exercise can yield better results. We recommend intensive aerobic exercises for one hour at least three times a week and light exercises at least five times. Stay with your exercise routine for about 12 weeks for
effective results.

Parting Shot

Exercising on a regular basis is something you don’t want to ignore as a person who values himself. When you exercise, you not only prevent physical diseases, but you also create a conducive environment for a healthy brain.

7 Techniques for Dealing With Stress That People Often Ignore

Learning how to handle stress is paramount in ensuring proper health. Here are a few strategies on how to get there.

From unreasonable clients and bosses to natural disasters, the life of an everyday American is filled with stressors. Short bursts of pressure can be good for you. However, according to research by Ohio University, persistent stress can change your genes.

The result is amplified inflammation and increased susceptibility to various health issues. Learning how to handle stress is paramount in ensuring proper health. Here are a few strategies on how to get there.

1. Get enough sleep

Between busy work schedules and family life, it is not uncommon to skip sleep once in a while. We forget that regardless of how important signing in a new client is, our bodies require high quality and quantity sleep to keep us on the move. If you do not get sufficient sleep, your health,
creativity, and productivity are bound to deteriorate.

When one is sleeping, the body uses its natural mechanisms to reinstate its energy reserves and control stress levels. Thus, when one does not get enough sleep, stress accumulates to the extent that maintaining a healthy body and mind becomes challenging. On the other hand, if you get enough sleep, you keep high tolerance levels throughout the day, and your alertness is high.

2. Quit doing stuff you dislike

If you are in an emotionally draining relationship, working a job you do not enjoy, or you are involved in any other thing that brings negativity to your life, it could be the reason for your high-stress levels. Healing from your current situation will require you to deal with the cause. Walking
away takes a lot of courage, but it is worthwhile.

Quit doing stuff you dislike

3. Consider rituals

Human bodies crave routine. When stressful moments drive all strength out of you, following a routine will help you get back in control. Whether it is listening to your favorite playlist while going to work, exercising in the morning or taking a bath before going to bed, during stress periods
creates a comforting routine that aids in combating stress. When you focus on these rituals and perform them consistently, you help boost your body’s capacity to handle the physical aspects of stress. Extra tip: a consistent routine can also help you sleep better.

4. Work out between work schedules

The gospel of the importance of exercising having been so well preached, more people work out nowadays as opposed to those who did so in the past. Most people prefer working out in the morning and evening hours, probably because they are unaware of the benefits of exercising in-
between work shifts.

Jobs are among the top stressors, and burning a few calories in between your workload might help manage your stress levels. If you are self-employed, getting an extra 30 minutes in between will not be very difficult. Those working 9 to 5 jobs can squeeze a quick work
out session during lunch hour.

Take care of your stomach

5. Take care of your stomach

Although persistent stress levels affect your body entirely, some organs might suffer the effects more than others. One of these organs is the stomach. While under a lot of pressure, one of the body’s mechanisms for handling the extra strain is constricting your stomach into a ball. Ambitious individuals who are working too hard to attain their life’s goals are more vulnerable to this effect than the less ambitious ones.

One would wonder what techniques are most effective for taking care of their stomachs. Several plants and herbs have been found to have a soothing effect on the stomach. Using essential oils is an effective technique of cleansing the stomach. Some of the useful oils include peppermint, lemon, and lavender. You can search for the various blends you can make.

6. Connect to your spiritual side

Since the ancient times, spirituality has been known to cure the soul; an effect that boosts happiness when faced with stressful situations. One of the practical spiritual practices is the use of beads for guidance during prayer. Get a set of these beads if you do not have one.

Decide on a mantra that resonates with you – it should be positive. It can either be religious or inspirational. Then, repeat the mantra on every bead. The more sets of beads you cover, the more you regain your sense of power and detachment from the cause of anxiety. That is the influence of meditation.

7. Appreciate more

Research has proven that expressing gratitude brings forth positive effects. The National Institute of Health Researchers carried out a study on brain activity and discovered that those who were more appreciative had higher hypothalamus activity. Hypothalamus is a section of the brain that
has a significant influence on stress levels. Being grateful also activated a feel-good neurotransmitter known as dopamine.

To benefit from this act, develop a strategy of appreciating the little things in life. For instance, you can write down the good things that happened to you during the day, every evening, and then put them in a tin. At the end of the year during the festivities, open the tin and read these notes. Also,
remember to be grateful to your friends, workmates, clients, and family as often as you can.

5 Strength-Building Exercises for a Better Yoga Practice

With the incorporation of strength building exercises, yoga practice can help you to achieve optimum physical and mental well- being.

The Yoga practice has proved to be one way you can maintain good health and self-healing.

With the incorporation of strength building exercises, yoga practice can help you to achieve optimum physical and mental well- being.

Here is a suggestion of strength exercises that you should consider including in your Yoga Practice.

1. Push Ups

Also known as Press- ups, Push- ups are an exercise that engages thoracic muscles, deltoids, abdominal muscles, triceps, and biceps.

Most therapists recommend push- ups because they are easy to do, no sports equipment is required, and you can do the exercise in the comfort of your living space.

To do perfect push ups:

  • Place your palm on the floor.
  • With the support of your toes, align your body in a straight position from the head to the legs.
  • In the straight position, lower your body, bending at the elbows till you are close to the floor.
  • Raise your body to the original position, and repeat the process for as long as you can.

Some of the conventional types of press ups include the knuckle push ups whereby you do the exercise in a fist position. Backhanded push ups are done in support of your back palms.

In a one arm press up, you have to lift yourself with a single arm. You can interchange the arms as you continue your workout.

2. Split Squat

The split squat exercises are important in developing the quadriceps muscles. For maximum strength, physiotherapists recommend that you use dumbells when working out. Remember to use weights that you feel comfortable carrying.

To start the exercise:

  • Stand upright with one foot elevated and stretched backward and the other one placed forward.
  • Hold a dumbbell hanging on each arm.
  • Start your workout by lowering your body, bending at the knee and hip joint of the back leg.
  • Lower your body till the back leg touches the ground.
  • Raise your body back to the starting position.

3. Pectoral Weightlifting

weight-training-for-beginners-for-yoga

Pectoral weightlifting is a type of exercise that aims to improve the strength of chest muscles. The muscles engaged in this kind of exercise are the deltoids, triceps, and back muscles.

When doing the exercise:

  • You will be required to find exercising equipment like dumbbells or a bench press machine.
  • Find a seat with a soft, comfortable top
  • Lie on the bench facing upwards
  • In that position use your hands to lift up and down the weights using both hands.

The various types of pectoral weight lifting that exist include inclining dumbbell press and dumbbell flys.

The latter type requires that you exercise with different types of dumbbells.

4. Pull Ups

Pull-ups are a form of exercise that is used to improve muscles on the upper body. The muscles include the trunk muscles, muscles on the arm, shoulder muscles, abdominal muscles and muscles of the pelvic floor. Pull-ups do not require sophisticated equipment when working out.

The procedure to be followed while making pull-ups includes:

  • Find a pull-up bar that you can easily reach with your arms raised.
  • Hold the bar with the arms facing in front.
  • With the help of your hands, pull the rest of the body upwards till the pull-up bar is at the same level as your neck.
  • Lower the rest of your body until your arms are fully stretched.
  • Repeat the pull-ups as much as you can.

Different types of pull-ups can be used to improve your exercising experience. Some of the conventional types include the weighted pull-ups that involve working out with weights held between your feet.

5. Hip Thrusts

barbell-hip-thrust-for-strength

The gluteus muscle is an important muscle that helps in body movement and changing direction. Hip thrusts are one of the ways that you can improve the strength of the gluteus muscles.

Carrying out the exercise does not require many training pieces.

Here is a simple procedure that will help you start off:

  • Find a bench that is below your knee height.
  • Use the bench to support your shoulders while looking up.
  • With the assistance of your legs, pull your body up; ensure that your shoulders are aligned in a straight line to the knees.
  • Lower your body to the initial position and repeat the exercise as long as you can.

With regular exercising, gluteus thrusts will help you to improve gluteus strength and reduce back pain. A common hip thrust exercise is the hip thrust with bands.

In this kind of exercise, an elastic band is placed on the hip joint to bring about resistance when exercising.

The Takeaway

including-yoga-into-strength-building

Incorporating the strength exercises into your Yoga practice will help you to maintain a good body mass index by reducing excess fat in your body. Regular strength exercises are also ideal for healthy bones.

As one grows old, his or her muscle mass diminishes. With proper exercise, however, one can maintain a healthy muscle mass.

Furthermore, strength exercises help to improve your body’s ability to withstand illnesses such lifestyle diseases, management of knee, and spine pain.

Final Say

To reap the maximum benefits of a strength exercise, one has to ensure that he or she is doing each exercise correctly and to do it regularly.