The World Health Organization terms depression as the leading cause of disability among people around the world. Clinicians also have a consensus that disability due to mental health issues can be harder than disability due to arthritis.
What’s more, statistics giving an outlook on mental health are also bleak. Every tenth person suffers from depression. Multiple ways can help improve your mental health including physical activity such as in the form of sports.
How Does Physical Activity Improve Mental Health?
Exercise is credited for extensive brain health benefits. These include:
- Sharper memory
- Increased creativity
- Lower stress levels
- Better cognitive function
- Slow aging and decline in brain function
- Improved concentration and focus
- Declined risk of neurological health concerns
Increased physical activity can help lower the risk of several mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, research tags exercise as a healthy measure for keeping mild cognitive disorder that accompanies aging at bay.
Plus, physical activity can slash the risk of developing dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. The sense of achievement that comes with physical activity and sports also improves self-esteem.
Low sense of self is often related to poor mental health. In fact, several mental issues such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) are linked with low self-worth. Thus, by helping to improve self-worth, exercise can help to further improve your mental well-being.
Sports and Mental Health – What’s The Connection?
Sports is a way to boost your physical activity, which relates to increased muscle movement. It also amps up blood circulation in the body.
Increased blood circulation carries more blood and with it oxygen and nutrients to the various parts of the body. This includes your brain. The brain cells, neurons, need proper nourishment for their well-being. Physical activity affords this.
At the same time, exercise boosts the level of endorphins. These are chemicals that encourage ‘happy’ feelings in your body. Similarly, physical activity improves the levels of a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, which is responsible for boosting your mood.
What’s more, exercise takes down the marker of the stress hormone, which further helps to improve mental health. Hence, in sum, we have:
- Exercise takes down the level of the stress hormone
- Physical activity antes up happy hormones
- It enhances mood-regulating hormones
Getting Started With Improving Your Physical Activity
Research says that you should dedicate 150 minutes to light aerobic exercises such as jogging, brisk walking, and so on every week. Alternatively, you can take out 75 minutes for strenuous workouts weekly.
Always remember to get started with light exercises for only a short time. This will train your muscles. You can increase your risk of muscle injury if you start with extensive exercise on your first day.
Additionally, keep in mind that you should start every exercise or a session, as you proceed, with warm-up exercises. These prepare your body for the work out that is to come. Also, remember that is never too late to reap the mental health benefits of exercise. Research agrees that even patients of cognitive decline can improve their condition with regular exercise.