Why stay fit?
This particular blog I created discusses the mental health benefits of being physically active. I call it “Mental Health Exercise Benefits”. This blog discusses the importance of exercise for your mental health. It is frankly invaluable to you to be active and certainly it should not be underestimated. The Mental health exercise benefits of physical exercise are numerous!
I must admit, I’ve never been the typical “gym rat.” Luckily I grew up in the mountains of Slovenia where there are plenty of hiking opportunities. Frankly, I’ve always loved the outdoors. Even when I was in college, I still found time on weekends to go hiking with my friends. It was fun and it helped me to stay fit. At the same time I also enjoyed the company of my friends.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Dancing
In addition to hiking, dancing has also been my passion. Initially, that meant going to clubs. It wasn’t really until I turned 26 and broke up with my ex that I found solace in dancing. This was while healing a broken heart after he cheated with one of my childhood friends. My dysfunctional family, the hurt and pain related to my childhood and adolescent abuse, as well as a broken heart, led me to move to the US in October of 1997. This is where I joined my now ex-husband an American.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Importance
I never truly understood the importance of exercise until years later. One of my boyfriends who was an athlete and a runner encouraged me to join the gym. At this point I didn’t enjoy going to clubs anymore. At that time as well I didn’t enjoy listening to hip-hop, dance, or techno. But I did take some belly dancing classes and I danced at drumming circles.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Medication
My healing journey took me to work with traditional psychotherapists, coaches, healers, and psychics. I was on and off medication for clinical depression and anxiety for the last 20 years. It had bad side effects such as weight gain, loss of libido, gastrointestinal issues, and even suicidal thoughts when life pressure and stress got to me.
Research Alternative/Holistic approaches
Over time I kept researching alternative and holistic approaches to healing from abuse, trauma, chronic anxiety and depression. I learned about Buddhism and Hinduism and started meditating. This is something I have been doing for 20 years now. Still, I have not been able to find lasting solutions to stay off medication for any extended periods of time. Stress didn’t help me! You see I had worked at many toxic workplaces while building my private counseling and coaching practice.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Functional medicine
Finally, a few years ago I learned about Functional Medicine. Now I began to understand the connection between my mental health and nutrition, as well as my gastrointestinal issues and lack of exercise due to working long hours. So I adopted a healthier, low carb diet. Quickly I lost over 15 lbs and I was able to get off medication and started taking B12 and CQ10 supplement.
I also stopped binge-watching Netflix and avoided drama and violence. Functional medicine, as opposed to traditional Western medicine, is more concerned with root causes, not symptom reduction, quick fixes, and taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Functional Medicine (cont.)
The key steps to health include:
1. Proper nutrition (rich in healthy fats, veggies, protein, nuts, seeds, and fruit)
2. Exercise (daily as much as possible)
3. Adequate sleep (minimum 7-8 hrs.)
4. Nurturing relationships and socializing
5. Stress management and spiritual practices
James M Greenblatt, MD, Breakthrough Depression Solution
According to James M Greenblatt, MD, in his book Breakthrough Depression Solution, exercise is important and plays a key role in fighting depression. Several studies have proven the efficacy of exercise in significantly decreasing depression symptoms. For example, in a study conducted in 2013, researchers assigned 48, alcohol-dependent, inactive patients to a twelve-week, moderate exercise program.
The other group of participants was simply told to exercise. The participants reported far less drinking as compared to those who had been simply told to exercise. Similarly, in another study conducted by a Columbia University of Epidemiology survey, over 60% of participants who exercised were much less likely to suffer a major depression (p. 152).
According to Dr. Greenblatt :
Exercise fights Depression (p. 154)
- Reverses Harmful Effects of Stress
- Lifts Depression
- Improves Learning
- Builds Self-esteem and Improves Body Image
- Leaves You Feeling Euphoric or Joyful
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Supplements
Dr Greenblatt also recommends taking supplements such as B12 and Carnitine, as many clients have very low energy and lack the motivation to exercise. The best type of exercise is probably Interval Training, because it helps to get the heart rate up quickly. However, any type of exercise can help including walking, yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, strength training, biking, swimming or dancing.
It’s important that you set realistic goals and start slowly. For example, 15 minutes three times a week, gradually increasing your exercise time. Do what you love and don’t force yourself to go to the gym if it’s not your cup of tea.
Mental Health Exercise Benefits- Articles
There are numerous publications available to you to help you stay in shape & lose weight.As a matter of fact whatever it is you want to accomplish you could probably locate huge amounts of data on the subject to help you. As an example of an excellent magazine for men to consult for instance is Men’s Health Magazine. I’ve included a quick link to their website below.
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