The body’s physical and mental health is interconnected and cannot be separated from each other. One affects the other.

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Mental and physical fatigue is linked

Researchers in Wales have found that the performance of a mentally fatigue task prior to a difficult exercise test caused participants to reach exhaustion more quickly than when they did the same exercise when mentally rested. So “resting up” and finding a peaceful mindfulness before a big physical day, is likely to help you through the day.

Keeping physically fit means keeping mentally fit

Studies found that elderly adults who are more physically fit tend to have bigger hippocampi and better spacial memory than those who are less fit. The size of the hippocampus part of the brain is thought to contribute to about 40% of the adults’ advantage in spacial memory. Keeping physically fit, means keeping mentally fit as well. Exercise is viewed as a natural antidepressant and increases activity in the hippocampus as well as in the frontal lobes, releases endorphins in the body and increases the production of certain types of neurotransmitters that improve a person’s mood. Besides being an antidepressant and mood enhancer, exercise has many other benefits ensuring a happier person overall.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress after a long, difficult day. Being in a better physical condition can make a person look and feel more attractive. It will also help to reduce chances of developing diseases, such as any number of heart problems, cancers or diabetes, which can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health as well.

Why bother with exercise?

To function optimally your body needs regular exercise – most of us feel good when we are more active. In Western societies so much is done by machines. We drive cars and walk less, at work we may not even have to move around the office – we sit behind the computer all day!

How can I be more active?

You do not have to run around a track or go to the gym every day!

  • Walk more.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.

If medical problems stop you from doing one thing, there may be something else you can do.

What happens if you don’t do very much?

The less you do, the more likely you end up with:

  • Low mood/depression.
  • Tension and worry.

If you keep active you are:

  • Less likely to be depressed, anxious or tense.
  • More likely to feel good about yourself.
  • More likely to concentrate and focus better.
  • More likely to sleep better.
  • More likely to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • More likely to stay mobile and independent.
  • Possibly less likely to have problems with memory and dementia.

Get started by building a bit more physical activity into your daily life. Even a small change can boost your morale and give you a sense of achievement.

Activity should:

  • Be enjoyable –if you don’t know what you may enjoy, try a few things!
  • Help you to feel more competent or capable.
  • Give you a sense of control over your life.
  • Help you to escape for a while from the pressures of life.
  • Be shared. The companionship involved can be just as important as the physical activity.

Why does exercise work?

  • Most people have always had to keep active to get food, water and shelter. This involves a moderate level of activity and seems to make us feel good.
  • Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect our mood and thinking.
  • Exercise can stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain derived neurotrophic factors”. These help new brain cells to grow and develop. Moderate exercise seems to work better than vigorous exercise.
  • Exercise seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.

How much exercise is enough for me?

  • Any exercise is better than none.
  • A moderate level of exercise seems to work best; this is roughly the equivalent of walking fast, but being able to talk to someone at the same time.
  • You need to do about 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise on at least 5 days of every week. This can be done in one 30 minute session or into shorter 10 or 15 minute sessions.
  • This does not only lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, but also helps with depression.
  • Don’t start suddenly – build more physical activity into your life gradually, small steps!

How do I care for my physical as well as emotional health?

  • Eat healthy. A healthy diet is good for body and mind.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • If you fall down, get back up! Resilience in the face of adversity is a gift that will keep on giving both mentally and physically.
  • Go out and play! Work is a good thing, it pays the bills. Taking time for relaxation and socializing is good for your emotional and physical health.
  • Exercise. Is proven to improve your mood and has comprehensive benefits for your physical health.
  • See the right doctor, regularly. This can make a difference in your overall health. Be open to seeing a mental health professional too.

Total health depends on a healthy mind and body. Take time to nurture both.

Article written by: Elsabe Rheeders


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.