At Outlaw FitCamp, we want to highlight World Mental Health Day which is held worldwide every October. The purpose of World Mental Health Day is to promote mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. This designated day is relatively new, starting in 1992. It’s had a big role in shining an important spotlight on the importance of mental health.
Even before the worldwide COVID pandemic, it was estimated that one in eight people were living with a mental disorder in 2019. But the pandemic worsened the world’s mental health problem. It is estimated that anxiety and depressive disorders increased by more than 25 percent during the first year of the pandemic.
We understand how important mental health is to your overall health. Outlaw FitCamp wants to do our part to help our clients maintain and improve their health in every way—both physically and mentally.
Thankfully, regular exercise is a proven way that people can improve their mental health.
Exercise strengthens mental health
Regular exercise plays an important role in mental well-being. It relieves symptoms of several mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. In fact, research shows exercise can improve the symptoms of many existing mental health problems. Because of this connection, more and more mental health professionals are prescribing exercise as part of the treatment for specific mental illnesses.
Additionally, studies show that regular physical exercise can also help prevent mental health problems before they even start.
What types of mental health are improved by exercise?
We hear a lot about the benefits of exercise on physical ailments. High blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and many other health problems improve with exercise.
But regular physical exercise also improves the following mental health problems:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
How does exercise affect mental health?
Exercise improves mental health in many ways. Here are eight main ways:
1) Releases feel-good endorphins
Exercise releases cannabis-like brain chemicals that improve your feeling of well-being.
2) Decreases stress hormones
Exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol.
3) Strengthens confidence
Meeting exercise goals, even small ones, helps you become more confident.
4) Distracts you from negative thoughts and emotions
While working out, you take a break from negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
5) Provides social interaction
If you are in a group fitness class or a personal training session (like the ones we have at Outlaw FitCamp) you will get important social interaction. This decreases stress and anxiety.
6) Improves physical health which often leads to better mental health
Improving your physical health reduces your risk of sickness and illness. Illnesses contribute to anxiety and lower your quality of life.
7) Buffers against stress
When you exercise, you become less affected by the stress you face.
8) Provides a healthy way to cope with problems
Exercise is a much better coping mechanism than drinking, drugs, or social withdrawal.
How much exercise do I need to improve mental health?
Many experts agree that 30 minutes of moderate exercise for three to five days a week is sufficient for improved mental health and significantly improves depression or anxiety.
Of course, more exercise is even better. A 2017 study found that between two and six hours of exercise each week is the best for optimal mental health.
Many people feel an improved mood immediately after exercise. Over time, these positive effects continue to build. Some experts believe that regularly exercising from 6 to 15 weeks substantially improves your overall mental state.
The mental health benefits of regular exercise last only if you stick to your exercise plan over the long-term. So the most important thing is to make a commitment to regular exercise and stick to your plan. Everyone is busy. Put aside some time for regular exercise and make your physical and mental well-being a top priority.
Signing up for Outlaw FitCamp’s group exercise classes or personal training sessions will make it easier to keep your commitment to exercise!
Regular exercise—good for your physical and mental well-being
It’s proven that people who regularly exercise have improved mental health. The release of endorphins, improved self-confidence, and other factors from regular exercise all contribute to your improved mental health.
We want to add that if you are exercising regularly and your depression or anxiety symptoms are not improving, please talk to your doctor. Exercise is a great way to improve your mental well-being, but it isn’t always a substitution for medications.
The key to having exercise improve your mental health is to find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. Look at exercise the same way you look at getting enough sleep or taking medications—as a tool you can use to make yourself feel better.
At Outlaw FitCamp, we have the equipment, knowledge, and staff to keep you motivated. You’ll find yourself enjoying our varied, challenging, and fun workouts. Give us a call and let us show you how our group fitness classes and personal training sessions can help you improve your health—both mentally and physically.