Working Out And Mental Health


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Be Mindful While Working Out

The effects of exercise on mental illness

Its true that high-intensity workouts can give you cathartic release through a rush of positive emotions and clarity. But its also important to take the time to check in with your emotions, Cauthen says, and choose an activity that matches your status quo. If youre feeling anxious, think an exercise like yoga or pilates that helps you center yourself and focus mainly on breathing. If your mind is running in circles, dipping down rabbit holes, and seeing the worst in every scenario, Cauthen says these activities can be incredibly helpful.

Refocusing your mind by being concentrating your energy on form, poses, and breathing can help rewire your brain to handle stress more effectively, she says. In fact, meditation has been shown to trigger neurotransmitters that help handle anxiety.

If youre the type of person who only likes high-intensity fitness, try pairing the physical release with some other form of mental escape. Cauthen suggests reflective journaling after an intense run or boxing session to distill your emotions and figure out why you needed that escape in the first place. Even a meditative stretching session or walk can help you come to terms with the things youre running from or fighting in the form of a workout.

Respiratory Therapists Mental Health

Regarding respiratory therapists, some very interesting research on health professionals, in general, is focused on doctors and nurses. It is a little bit annoying that there is not as much on respiratory therapists and other professionals. A study was done in nine ICUs at five different hospitals and found that RTs had a lower burnout scale but still a high percentage compared to the other ICU workers. Burnout rates correlated highly with leadership, attitude, behavior, and work conditions. Right off the bat, if you have had a situation where you had this leadership and then a change in leadership, and I know from my experience, too, it is interesting how the attitudes of the people running things can affect them. It is like we are all in this Petri dish. Putting a toxin in the mix can affect how burnt out people get. It is interesting how affected we are by our environment and other people. The majority of this study worked more than 50 hours a week. Probably not a surprise to you all, and previous studies have reported a 25% severe burnout rate. It pretty much doubled during the pandemic.

The Relationship Between Exercise And Mental Health

The impact of exercise on mental health has been a hot topic for research. The science is clear: Regular exercise can improve mental and emotional well-being and lower your risk of mental illness. In fact, the CDC says you can experience benefits for your mental and physical health with as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.

Here are some of the benefits of exercise on mental health. It can:

Exercise programs are just one potential intervention for mental health issues. For people with more severe mental health conditions, exercise is a complement to, not a replacement for, additional care. Seek out psychotherapy, psychiatry, or other types of mental health care if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Mental health professionals may prescribe exercise for mental health issues if they feel itll improve your situation.

For many of us, we simply need help forming healthy habits. Outside support, such as from a coach or group, can help you understand your why and hold you accountable to make consistent progress toward your goals.

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The Science Of Working Out

Muscles are made of myofibrils. These are tiny strands of muscles that get damaged each time a person does heavy workouts. This is essential in building strength as progressive overload is necessary for bodybuilding and strength. The human body breaks down the proteins into amino acids and uses it to repair the damaged muscles. The muscles are inflamed which gives them a more defined and ripped appearance. The scientific term for building muscle is hypertrophy. According to Josh Taylor, founder of Coach JT, the recovery process essentially rebuilds these muscle tears to make them grow stronger and bigger.

Sunlight Is Great For Your Mood

Pin by Ying Lui on Fitness

If you are exercising outside you have the added benefit of sunlight which can have a positive impact on mood. Sunlight in and of itself is excellent for mental health. In fact, sunlight can help remind the body to release serotonin just like exercise can. So pow, double whammy! Take that the winter blues! Even in darker, colder months we have the occasional nice day where you can head outside. Even if youre not into running in the great outdoors try taking the kids to a public park and running around. A nice game of tag on the soccer fields at Cosmo Park can get your heart rate up AND help you get a little sunshine.

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Why Mental Health Is Important

Mental health is truly essential for living a happy and fulfilling life. A study conducted in 2017 by the University of Oxford states that approximately 792 million people live and have lived with a mental health disorder, which sums up more than one in ten people globally. Exactly at 10.7%. Another study conducted by the National Alliance of Mental Health states that 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14, and 75% by the age of 24.

Mental and emotional health is important because it affects productivity, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Having a healthy mind makes certain activities like school and work less stressful. Being healthy mentally helps people adapt to changes better and react to hostility. The negative effects of bad mental health are different with each person. The issue varies from each person and there are different things that work and not work for people.

The struggles of mental health affects the overall quality of life. An unhealthy mind can cause one to lose interest in things and sometimes overwhelms an individual even with simple things. Moreover, there is a huge stigma regarding mental health. This is why only a small percentage of people seek treatment. That is why it is important to encourage people to know and identify their symptoms as early as possible and that awareness should be spread regarding this matter. Aside from that, actions regarding the prevention of mental health issues should be prioritized.

Tips For Developing An Exercise Routine For Mental Health

Whether youre just starting to exercise or youre a seasoned veteran, there are a few important things to keep in mind when developing your routine, especially if you live with a mental health condition.

Some mental health conditions may make it harder to feel motivated to exercise. Therefore, creating a strategy to stay consistent may be very helpful.

Here are the top tips to help ensure success when developing an exercise routine:

  • Find your ideal time of day. Some people are morning people, while others do best working out in the evening or at night. If you find your ideal time for physical activity, youll be more likely to stick to your routine.
  • Set attainable goals.Creating achievable goals is super important for staying motivated. Set small goals and celebrate those wins.
  • Include exercises you enjoy. It can be hard to stay motivated to exercise if you dont enjoy the activities youre doing. Choose exercises that make you feel good, and try to have fun while doing them.
  • Work out with a friend or a group. Working out with a friend or group may just give you the motivation and accountability you need to stay consistent.
  • Work with a personal trainer. If this is an option for you, having a professional guide you through your exercises may provide a boost of motivation and encourage you to get the most out of each session and keep coming back.

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Just Scratching The Surface

Scientists have some ideas how exercise enhances mental health, says Patrick J. Smith, a psychologist and biostatistician at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, who wrote about the subject in the 2021 Annual Review of Medicine with Duke colleague Rhonda M. Merwin.

It doesnt seem to have much to do with cardiovascular fitness or muscular strength the most obvious benefits of exercise. Something else must be going on thats more important than mere fitness, Smith says.

One possibility is that exercise buffs up the brain as well as the body. Physical exercise triggers the release of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor . BDNF encourages the growth of new brain cells including, possibly, in the hippocampus, a brain region important in memory and learning. Since the hippocampus tends to be smaller or distorted in people with depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, boosting BDNF through exercise may be one way physical activity might help manage these conditions.

Sure enough, studies show that people with depression have lower levels of BDNF and, notably, one effect of some antidepressants is to increase production of that molecule. Researchers have not yet shown directly that the exercise-associated increase in BDNF is what reduces depressive symptoms, but its a promising possibility, Hovland says.

Helps With Anxiety And Depression

The mental health benefits of working out

According to certain scientific studies, exercise is one form of anti-anxiety treatment. These studies show that working out can treat mild to moderate depression the same way as antidepressant medication does. Moreover, it does not have any side-effects. Another study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that a 15-minute run once a day or even an hour of consistent walking can significantly reduce the risk of major depression by a whopping 26%.

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Mental Health In The Workplace

Mental Health Disorders and Stress Affect Working-Age Americans

This issue brief is

Mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older reported any mental illness in 2016.2 In addition, 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious.4

Many people with mental health disorders also need care for other physical health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and disorders that affect muscles, bones, and joints.58 The costs for treating people with both mental health disorders and other physical conditions are 2 to 3 times higher than for those without co-occurring illnesses.9 By combining medical and behavioral health care services, the United States could save $37.6 billion to $67.8 billion a year.9

About 63% of Americans are part of the US labor force.10 The workplace can be a key location for activities designed to improve well-being among adults. Workplace wellness programs can identify those at risk and connect them to treatment and put in place supports to help people reduce and manage stress. By addressing mental health issues in the workplace, employers can reduce health care costs for their businesses and employees.


Mental Health Issues Affect Businesses and Their Employees

Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employee:


Action steps employers can take include:

How Much Exercise Do You Need

Australian guidelines recommend adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most or all days of the week. You can make up 30 minutes over the day by combining shorter 10 to 15 minute sessions.

Practising mindfulness while doing exercise also reduces your stress and improves your mental health.

If money is a worry, think about local community centres, which often have affordable exercise groups. And if you have private health insurance, you might get help for gym membership as part of a mental health care plan.

You may struggle finding motivation, or staying motivated for exercise. Think about ways you can make exercise part of your daily routine and lifestyle. Choose something you enjoy, and ask your friends or family to help motivate you and to keep you on track.

If you own a dog, take them for walks in your local area.

Combine your exercise routine with a healthy diet to boost your motivation and energy for exercise.

Recommended Reading: Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute

Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.

If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.

It can also improve your sleep, which is important in many different ways.

Our Brains Develop Self

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You know that moment of euphoria following a super-sweaty, challenging workout? You feel strong, unbeatable and excited for your recovery snack or meal. No matter what type of movement, Thomas says fitness boosts confidence and offers a sense of accomplishment. On the other end of the spectrum, not exercising has the opposite impact, decreasing self-esteem and image. “This is because the person who’s too sedentary can feel and think of themselves in many ways,” Thomas says. “The person may feel less vibrant, fun, productive, energetic, and so on.”

Once these thoughts begin, they’re tough to beat. It becomes a cycle of putting ourselves down, not having enough energy to work out, and then feeling worse afterward.

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Emphasize Rest And Recovery Just As Much As Activity

Yes, getting into a regular fitness habit can do wonders for both your mental and physical health. But remind yourself that rest is an equally important skill to cultivate. “Our culture is one that tends to emphasize and exult productivity and success,” points out Dr. Lakshmin. Prioritizing rest doesn’t come naturally to most of us, but skimping on it can lead to burnout and high levels of stress. “Itâs not our fault that we havenât learned to do this,” says Dr. Lakshmin, “but it is our responsibility to teach ourselves.”

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Can Diet Impact Your Mental Health

Your diet is an often-overlooked factor that can surely influence your mental health.

Its well known that a nutritious diet can promote a healthy body composition, regulate energy levels, and help reduce the risk of certain diseases (

Here are some possible ways to optimize your diet for mental health:

  • Focus on healthy fats such as avocado, nut butters, olive oil, and fatty fish.
  • Limit processed food intake.
  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables at least two servings and three servings daily, respectively.
  • Try to consume enough fiber by focusing on complex carbs, or whole grains.
  • Opt for lean proteins such as chicken, fish, tofu, turkey, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
  • Include plenty of unsweetened beverages to stay hydrated.

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Our Brains Can’t Manage Stress As Well

In every stressful situation, we either have a flight or a fight reaction. If we’re fliers, we flee, for fear of facing whatever trouble brews ahead. If we are fighters, we stick with it, sometimes becoming combative or defensive. Dr. Nadelman says this is an adaptive biological outcome that’s not quite as helpful as it was in caveman days. Most of the time, people can find a happy medium between these two extremes and handle anxiety as it comes their way.

However, when we don’t have a regular routine of physical activity, our brain releases the stress hormone, cortisol, making it trickier to manage our emotions effectively. “Modern-day stressors are usually not transient and increase cortisol in a sustained manner,” she says. “This increase in cortisol has neurotoxic effects on the brain, which can damage the hippocampus by decreasing neuropeptide BDNF expression, and lead to depression.” With aerobic exercise, we lower our neuroendocrine reactivity and reduce our biological response to stress, thus naturally feeling calmer and more in control.

The bottom Line? Much like you prioritize family time, work, and sleep, make physical activity a non-negotiable part of each day for optimal cognitive and emotional healthwhether it’s a yoga session, walk, bike ride, or cleaning out the garage. And if you don’t have time for a full, formal workout, try committing to doing a tiny, three-minute workout every 30 minutes throughout the day to interrupt long periods of sitting.

Easy Ways To Move More That Dont Involve The Gym

Work it out – good mental health through exercise

Dont have a 30-minute block of time to dedicate to yoga or a bike ride? Dont worry. Think about physical activity as a lifestyle rather than just a single task to check off your to-do list. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here, there, and everywhere.

< Move in and around your home. Clean the house, wash the car, tend to the yard and garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, sweep the sidewalk or patio with a broom.

Sneak activity in at work or on the go. Bike or walk to an appointment rather than drive, use stairs instead of elevators, briskly walk to the bus stop then get off one stop early, park at the back of the lot and walk into the store or office, or take a vigorous walk during your coffee break.

Get active with the family. Jog around the soccer field during your kids practice, make a neighborhood bike ride part of your weekend routine, play tag with your children in the yard, go canoeing at a lake, walk the dog in a new place.

Get creative with exercise ideas. Pick fruit at an orchard, boogie to music, go to the beach or take a hike, gently stretch while watching television, organize an office bowling team, take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.

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