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Your Mind, Your Body - Exploring the links between physical and mental wellness

By: Alana Heyman

Mind-body approaches to mental treatment can be easily accessible and affordable. Aside from getting in shape physically, exercise can be beneficial for the optimization of brain function and overall mental wellness. People who exercise often have more energy, feel less tired, and feel better about themselves. These benefits are not just a product of intense weight-lifting or cardio based exercises, but can also be reaped from a different fitness outlet that works for you.

If you are looking to improve your overall mind-body wellness through, there are many different options you can try out! A short fast-paced walk around the block, a game of tennis, yoga or bike ride are some examples. It is important to find something that works for YOU! This might be an individual activity, an activity with a partner or a group-based workout class.

There is research that explains how exercise can be a useful tool to treat depression, as well as a preventative for depression relapse. Exercise promotes changes in the brain that lead to a better sense of well-being. While working out, endorphins are released in the brain which can make someone feel good. If exercise is new for you, your brain will be participating in neural growth and creating new neural pathways. This can contribute to improved cognitive functions. Additionally, exercise is an activity that you do solely for yourself, and can be a good distraction from stress and worry. Dopamine, serotonin and nor-epinephrine levels are boosted while exercise. These chemicals in the brain are involved in attention and focus.

If you are someone who struggles with ADD/ADHD, you may want to consider exercising! If you are experiencing mental or emotional challenges, exploring a fitness activity can be a helpful and healthy coping mechanism or outlet you can turn to. If you are looking to replace a negative coping skill, such as alcohol or drugs, exercise can be a great option!

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