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How I rebuilt my mental health with exercise

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Mental health has been a hot topic as of late, and it’s become another one of those areas that can feel overwhelming because of all the different advice we’re getting on social media.

I’m not a mental health professional, but after going through depression and alcoholism after my best friend was murdered, I’d like to share what worked for me.

To cut to the chase, I’ve learned that without movement, there’s little chance to get out of any sort of mental rut that you’re in. It could be a bad day, significant depression, or somewhere in between. If you’re not taking care of your physical health, you’re not giving yourself a realistic chance to improve mentally.

In other words, exercise can help you get your head above water so that you have a chance to improve your mental health. In my opinion, you can’t think your way out of a bad mental state. This is one of the many reasons we always start with physical activity with anyone we’re working with, regardless of the goal.

Here are three scientific reasons why this is the case.


1. Stress Reduction


Exercise can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It plays a crucial role in the body's "fight or flight" response, helping to regulate various functions such as metabolism, blood sugar levels, immune response, and inflammation. While cortisol is essential for survival, chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can have negative effects on health. Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels has been associated with increased risk of various health issues, including weight gain, digestive problems, impaired immune function, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders.


2. Endorphins


Physical activity stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play key roles in regulating mood and emotions.

Serotonin is often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter because it helps regulate mood, anxiety, and happiness. It also plays a role in sleep, appetite, and digestion. Imbalances in serotonin levels have been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as sleep disturbances and appetite changes.

Dopamine is commonly associated with the brain's reward system and is involved in motivation, pleasure, and reinforcement. It plays a crucial role in regulating movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. Dopamine is released in response to pleasurable activities such as eating, exercise, and social interactions. Imbalances in dopamine levels have been implicated in conditions like Parkinson's disease, addiction, and schizophrenia.


3. Cognitive function

Exercise has a positive impact on cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients that support brain health and neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and change over time.

Now that you know how much of an impact physical activity has on us chemically, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could get out of even just a mental rut, let alone depression without physical activity.

It is my opinion that people should start with physical activity before ever taking anti-depressants. In many cases, anti-depressant medication can and should be avoided.


To close today I just want you to know that if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. We all have our struggles, and I can tell you after going through significant depression and alcoholism after my best friend was murdered that nothing helped until I started getting physically active.

Start going for walks, strength training, yoga, (anything active) and know there are people out there willing to listen to what you’re struggling with, myself included. Ultimately, the struggle you’re going through is an opportunity to cultivate and develop the skillsets and character traits to get through them, making you a stronger person on the other side.

I hope you find this information helpful and have a great week ahead!

Never Feel Lost In The Gym Again With The Help Of Beyond Measure Fitness Training in Naperville!

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