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World Mental Health Day 2023: Know the importance of exercise for mental well-being

Exercise can be particularly important for individuals seeking structure and direction in their lives. In summary, exercise has a profound impact on mental health. It positively influences mood, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, enhances cognitive function, and improves sleep.

Kristina Das Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Published on: October 06, 2023 12:57 IST
world mental health day 2023
Image Source : FREEPIK Know the importance of exercise for mental well-being.

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on October 10 to raise awareness and promote mental health education and advocacy. The aim is to highlight the importance of prioritising mental health for individuals, communities, and societies as a whole. As we all know mental health is just as important as physical health and that seeking help is a sign of strength. Here in this article, Dr Rohit Mehta PT, Senior Consultant, and Zonal Head Physio & Rehabilitation Department at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, has explained why exercise is important for mental well-being.

Regular exercise has a substantial and positive impact on mental health. This relationship is multifaceted, influencing various aspects of psychological well-being. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good" hormones. These chemicals act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. The surge of endorphins can lead to improved mood, reduced stress levels, and an overall sense of well-being. 

Engaging in regular exercise has been consistently linked to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression. The release of endorphins, coupled with the increase in other neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine, contributes to a more balanced and positive mental state. Physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive abilities. It enhances memory, focus, and learning capabilities. This is attributed to increased blood flow to the brain, which nourishes brain cells and supports the growth of new neurons. 

Regular exercise helps regulate sleep patterns. It can make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep by extending the duration of the deeper stages of the sleep cycle. Quality sleep is essential for emotional regulation and mental clarity. Exercise serves as a powerful stress reliever. It prompts the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, which moderate the body's stress response. 

Engaging in physical activity provides a healthy outlet for pent-up tension and a means to unwind. Regular exercise often leads to improvements in physical fitness and appearance. This, in turn, can boost self-esteem and body confidence. Feeling capable, strong, and comfortable in one's own body positively impacts overall self-image. Many forms of exercise involve social interaction, whether through group classes, team sports, or workout partnerships. This social engagement provides opportunities for connection and can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Engaging in exercise offers a constructive way to cope with difficult emotions or life challenges. Instead of turning to less healthy coping strategies, individuals can channel their energy into physical activity, which provides a positive outlet for emotional release. Setting and achieving fitness goals can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose. 

This can be particularly important for individuals seeking structure and direction in their lives. In summary, exercise has a profound impact on mental health. It positively influences mood, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, enhances cognitive function, improves sleep, and provides a healthy outlet for stress. Additionally, it contributes to a positive self-image and fosters social connections. Embracing regular exercise as part of a holistic approach to mental well-being can lead to significant and lasting benefits.

ALSO READ: 7 ways to break the silence surrounding mental health issues

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