It’s no secret that exercise can make our lives’ better. It benefits not only our physical health but also our mental health. With rates of depression and anxiety at its highest levels in history. These disorders lead to stress, poor diets, and can lead to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle that affects our physical health. Exercise is very important to help these symptoms but why?
Exercise produces hormones that help you feel better like endorphins and enkephalins. These are released in the brain and helps the body and mind feel better. With this release of hormones it helps us to focus more on exercise and focus less on the negative thoughts you may be having. Research has actually found that exercise is great for maintenance of good mental health but is actually used to treat chronic mental health issues. It also turns out that exercise has been proven to treat mental health issues as well as pharmaceutical interventions.
How is this done exactly? Exercise stimulates muscles, and one of those muscles is the brain. Exercise increases activity in the brain. Oxygen and other vital nutrients are delivered to the brain due to the elevation of heart rate. Neuron connections become stronger through this process. The area of the brain that controls memory and well as emotion regulation is called the hippocampus. This area of the brain seems to be affected the most. Mental conditions are associated with decreased activity in the hippocampus so exercise is the best treatment option.
The next big question is how much exercise should be done to benefit the brain. Experts say that 3 or more bouts of 45-60 minutes are suggested per week. Just like physical exercise produces results over time, mental health takes time as well. It usually takes 10-12 weeks to see the greatest anti-depressant effect.