Mental health is an important part of everyone’s life. It shapes how we think, feel and act when we’re alone and when we interact with the environment. Many times, when we think of mental health, we focus on an illness or a condition, but just like our physical well-being, we all vary in mental healthiness. Much like physical health, mental health requires regular maintenance.
Exercise is good for the body, but did you know it is also good for the mind? While many praise the physical benefits of working out, decades of research indicate that it also can improve an individual’s mental health. In fact, exercise has great benefits for cognitive processes and emotions, and can even protect the brain from premature aging.
The standard recommendation is that exercise should last 15 to 30 minutes to reap the benefits. Nevertheless, the key to exercise for your mental health is to maximize the “feel-good” benefits, not stress on reaching a specific time. If you can only muster a 2-minute burst of energy, that is OK. When you are ready, you will increase it, and your overall health will reap the benefits.
Challenge yourself to increase your exercise time and intensity. After a challenging day, reward yourself. A walk followed by a long, hot shower or snuggling with your pet can improve your mood or find a support group or partner to enjoy exercising with. Your mental health will thank you.
Mental health is something everyone can maintain and improve — and exercise is an important activity that provides mental benefits for everyone to enjoy. Believe me starting exercise is the most difficult part in your journey. Take the first steps to improve your mental health and invite others to join you.