Getting our bodies up and going can have a profound impact on our mental well-being. Routine exercise not only helps with maintaining a bodily integrity and healthy lifestyle, but it also directly relates to our psychological stability. Researchers from Guangzou, China found that physical exercise not only improves general health conditions, but emotional states including the enhancement of cognitive functioning, lower rates of depression, reduction in drug use, and overall quality of life (Huang et al., 2020). Specifically, reductions in trait anxiety appears to correlate significantly with physical activity (Hegberg et al., 2015). It appears the mind can recalibrate after physical exercise in a manner similar to having a day off from work, time spent doing a hobby, or a really good talk with a friend.
Youth offers many pleasantries that seem to fade as the aging process takes over. As adults, our bodies slow down, our priorities shift, and our drive to exercise can dwindle. Younger persons are much more receptive to physical exercise as a part of mental health treatment than adults, yet the importance of physical exercise is greater the older we get (Parker et al., 2020). A national study in the Netherlands of nearly 7100 Dutch adults found that physical exercise was negatively associated with presence and first-onset of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as higher resilience rates for individuals to recover from mental illness if they worked out (ten Have, et al., 2010). In other words, adults appeared to have a strong sense of psychological durability and bounce-back when physical exercise was a routine part of life.
Physical exercise appears to correlate with psychological well-being. However, it is not causational and should not be imagined as such. Many persons have an excess habit of physical activity that is ultimately harmful, and perhaps indicative of painful psychological states. Others do not engage in enough physical activity, and so their bodies may shut down long before their minds are ready to give up the fight. If you’d like to work on enhancing your psychological well-being, as well as discuss methods to incorporate physical activity in your life, please consider consulting with the clinicians at Town Center Psychology. You are not alone!
Hegberg, N. J., & Tone, E. B. (2015). Physical activity and stress resilience: Considering those at-risk for developing mental health problems. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 8, 1-7. http://dx.doi.org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1016/j.mhpa.2014.10.001
Huang, J., Zheng, Y., Gao, D., Hu, M., & Yuan, T. (2020). Effects of exercise on depression, anxiety, cognitive control, craving, physical fitness and quality of life in methamphetamine-dependent patients. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 1-7. http://dx.doi.org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00999
Parker, A. G., Trott, E., Bourke, M., Pogrmilovic, B. K., Dadswell, K., Craike, M., McLean, S. A., Dash, S., & Pascoe, M. (2020). Young people’s attitudes towards integrating physical activity as part of mental health treatment: A cross-sectional study in youth mental health services. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, http://dx.doi.org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1111/eip.13189
tan Have, M., de Graaf, R., & Monshouwer, K. (2010). Physical exercise in adults and mental health status. Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 71 (5), 342-348. http://dx.doi.org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.04.001