Mental Benefits of Exercise

Mental Benefits of Exercise







Mental benefits of exercise are too numerous to mention. Not only do I improve my cardiovascular health, keep some strength, (I have a 10 year old son who likes to wrestle), release endorphins for that contentment feeling, but I increase my brain fitness too, which is where my cognitions arise.

Physical activity has been shown to help with being emotionally and mentally fit also.

Jennifer C. Panning wrote this in November of 2000;

"While the majority of fitness research efforts focus on the physical and health benefits of exercise, there is a growing body of work demonstrating that exercise promotes wellness and mental health. Researchers at Duke University studied people suffering from depression for 4 months and found that 60% of the participants who exercised for 30 minutes three times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication. This is the same percentage rate as for those who only used medication in their treatment for depression."

I know that I do not feel as good when I miss my regular workout. I know that if I am home on a weekend afternoon, and I begin to feel antsy, or the "kitten and kids noise" begins to activate my sensory overload mechanism, I had better get outside and mow or weed or do something to work up a sweat, because I will come back from that activity relaxed, and ready to let the kids and the kittens be kids and kittens.

Can the Mental Benefits of Exercise Happen in 10 Minutes?

Yes. That's the long anwer. Ever heard of HIIT? HIIT is an acronym standing for high intensity interval training, which might bring to mind really heavy barbells and sweaty muscular people flinging them around, but HIIT actually describes a workout that happens in 10 minutes, at your pace, using exercises you pick, done in 30 second increments, for 10 minutes.

Believe me, if you try this, you will be winded and maybe sweaty, and you will accrue all the mental benefits of exercise. You can do this in your basement utility room, with really expensive and sophisticated equipment, like an exercise ball and dumbells.

Again from Judith Paning;

"You don't have to be suffering from a clinical or diagnosed Mental Illness to get substantial mental health benefits from exercise and fitness.

One study found that short workouts of 8 minutes in length could help lower sadness, tension and anger along with improving resistance to disease in healthy people. Many people exercise to boost confidence along with reducing anxiety and stress, all of which contribute to psychological health and well-being. So, exercise can be viewed as a preventative or wellness activity that may actually help prevent physical and emotional conditions. By the way, even short bursts of activity help individuals feel better, which means that you don't have to spend hours at the gym to gain real mental health benefits."

Here is a 10 minute model, done by Angie and Scott Tousignant who exercise together doing HIIT. Talk about mental benefits of exercise, you get the individual and the couple benefits too.

Imagine a relationship where couples get on the same heart beat.

Mental Benefits of Exercise Include Brain Fitness?

Now it is possible to work out your brain using computerized brain fitness programs?

I know you are imagining your neurons lifting heavy physics textbooks right now, aren't you?

Brain fitness is possible now, and the serious writers in this field say that two recently discovered capacities of the human brain, neuorplasticity and neurogenesis, can be enhanced by attending to the pillars of brain fitness.

The first and most important brain fitness pillar is physical exercise, particularly exercise of the aerobic type because it increases blood flow and the growth of new arteries and veins in the brain.

Your brain needs those new arteries and veins because it grows new neurons every day, and if I do not poison my brain with booze or too long an exposure to stress hormones, they will move to the hippocampus where I keep memories alive.

Neuroplasticity describes the capacity of my brain to rewire itself in minutes when I give it challenging learning.

Both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are enhanced by exercise.

If you are curious about this brain fitness phenomenon, then read this book, Brainfit for Life written in easily decipherable lay person language by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.

The other pillars of brain fitness are nutrition, which includes antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, good sleep, stress management, and challenging learning experiences which might include using the computerized brain fitness programs like Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, or Lumosity, an online subscription program.

The stress management aspect of mental benefits of exercise would come from learning to relax on demand, which utilizes a powerful new tool called HeartMath that helps us learn heart rate variability coherence or how to manage the time between heart beats, which feels so good.

I have used HeartMath for 9 years and taught it to clients for nine years also.

Learning HeartMath is easy, it took me six one half hour practices to show sustained heart rate variabilty coherence. The work comes from remembering to use it regularly, like every five minutes for two heart beats.

Well, here are some links to the tools I have mentioned that will make the mental benefits of exercise astounding for you.



Web's Best Brain Games



Think Faster, Focus Better, Remember More



Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.


Have a question and want to talk with a therapist? Call 815-316-2621 for Julie Logan, LCSW, RN. 7121 Windsor Lake Parkway, Loves Park, Illinois 61111 jlogan7264@myway.com

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