You might believe that a healthy life is measured by fitness, diet, and lifestyle habits. And it’s true, those things are part of a healthy life, but all too often, mental health is overlooked as a critical aspect of your overall well-being. The good news is, one of the most important habits for physical health also plays a key role in improving mental health: many studies have shown that even small amounts of low-intensity exercise can have significant benefits to mental health, such as:
- Strengthening Self-Image – How you feel about yourself has a huge impact on mental health. When you get up and move, no matter how vigorously, you naturally feel a sense of accomplishment. You know that you’re improving your health and well-being, which translates into feeling better about yourself, and with a stronger self-image, it’s much easier to have a more positive outlook on life.
- Reducing Stress – Your muscles tense when you’re stressed, which can lead to back issues, headaches, and even nausea. Exercise increases your heart rate, which pumps more blood into your muscles and helps loosen them up. Physical activity also has the extra benefit of helping you “get out of your own head” by giving you something to focus on instead of whatever’s stressing you out. After exercising, you can return to that situation with a fresh perspective, and that can make all the difference.
- Improving Mood – Exercise increases endorphin levels. Endorphin is the chemical naturally produced by your body that creates feelings of happiness. When you become naturally happier, it’s much harder to feel anxious or depressed. A positive mood helps you focus on the positive aspects of your life, which leaves less time to worry about the negative aspects you aren’t usually able to control.
The idea of implementing an exercise regimen might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to get a gym membership, or go out and buy all the latest equipment and workout outfits. Just commit to getting up and moving around for at least 30 minutes a day. Walk around the block. Park in the farthest parking spot at the grocery store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your life and routine—just be consistent. Soon, exercising will be part of your everyday life, something you actually look forward to! And remember, every step you take makes you happier and healthier. What better incentive could there be? So get moving!