Most of us are aware of the physical benefits of exercise but we usually only think it benefits us below the neck. We know we can expect stronger muscles and bones; we can lose some weight and slow the aging process but what about our mental and emotional health, can exercise help us there as well?

After all our brain is the central processing unit for all of our body’s systems and processes and its health is important to our well-being and the way we feel about ourselves and our lot in life. Fitness and our health do not just stop at the neck and we need to consider our mental and emotional health as well.

Statistics reveal that mental illness accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease which is more than all cancers and it is predicted that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second highest cause of death and disability in the world.

Major depression is the number one psychological (mental) disorder in the western world. It is growing in all age groups with up to 20 percent of people experiencing it.  Today over 17 million people in the US, which includes 13 percent of  teenagers and 3 percent of children under thirteen, are currently on Prozac, the second most commonly prescribed drug.

Depression is a huge problem and the burden on society is incredible with an estimated cost in the US alone of more than $40 billion dollars per year, and an annual loss of two hundred million work hours. The human cost is high too with suicide being the 8th leading cause of death.

When we are healthy mentally we are able to realize our full potential in life and can cope with the normal difficulties and stresses of modern life. We should also be able to be productive, do our share and make a contribution to our community.

Experts are gaining a better understanding of the closely linked connection between the health of the body and the health of the mind. We know that physical activity is the human body’s key method of staying healthy and it appears to be crucial to mental health as well. When our body is fit and strong our mind is fit and strong as well.

When we give our muscles a good workout “feel good” natural chemicals are stimulated that makes us happier and more content. These chemicals also regulate our emotions and dissipate stress and anxiety. When not chased away regularly unhealthy thoughts build up and get in the way of enjoyment of life.

After each vigorous exercise session the slate is wiped clean as the calming affect kicks in. When we get our blood pumping it not only benefits the brain but every cell and tissue in the body gets a boost stimulating energy and rejuvenation. Pretty hard to feel “blue” when you feel so good.


It is a shame that pills are usually the first option when someone is feeling “down”. It is not hard to work out why when recommending a good workout does not make money for the medical establishment but pills and drugs do. But this does not mean it is the right solution. Even if prescription drugs are used proper exercise still can play a very big role in improving the health of every single body system including mental and emotional health as well.

Pills will never make you healthy but exercise will and is a simple inexpensive gift we can give ourselves that we all have easy access to. If you are in this situation do not allow yourself to be just fobbed off with a pill alone. Try exercise and you will find it will act as a counter balance and soothe and blast away negative thoughts before they build up and hinder your life.

Depression is a universally understood condition of sadness and low spirits, life has lost its luster and doom and gloom prevails. We all experience some sadness as part of weathering life’s misfortunes and have periods of being down in the dumps. Most people normally recover from such low points and carry on. However, sometimes people don’t recover from life’s setbacks.


Physical Activity and Mental Health

It is only recently that people have begun to see the link and the importance between physical activity and mental health with inactive or sedentary people having twice the risk of becoming depressed.  Several hundred studies have analyzed the effect of exercise on depression and found that exercise can increase self-esteem, improve mood, reduce anxiety levels, increase the ability to handle stress, and improve sleep patterns.

A proper strengthening exercise program provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications but without negative side effects therefore providing a very useful therapeutic treatment. Newly released studies show that after a strength training session, endorphin levels (feel good hormones) are increased by more than 60 percent leaving you feeling rejuvenated and even euphoric, keeping your mind trouble-free.


When people suffering from depression participate in proper exercise programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, which has a strong impact on their overall quality of life.

If you have never exercised before, learning an exercise program can be considered a new skill. Many people experience a mood boost and increased energy levels when they have mastered a new skill or talent. This can provide a sense of accomplishment and achievement which counters the effect of depression.

Even a modest exercise program of 30 minutes a day, three days a week is an effective weapon for combating depression and the benefits of such a program are likely to be permanent for individuals who adopt exercise as a regular, ongoing life activity.

Just as you get more energy exercising you also get happier, have a better outlook on life, have more vitality and enjoy life more. You will feel good and have an effective weapon to fight the blues.

When our body carries out vigorous physical movement it makes us feel good about ourselves and can help us get back in touch and calm the inner self. When we work our muscular system with proper exercise natural chemicals are released that regulate emotions and thoughts and dissipate stress. Your exercise program oils the wheels that turn in our brains for everything from the way we think, to what we feel and what we do.

And we get a bonus as when oxygen rich blood is pumped around our body it benefits every single cell, tissue and organ including the brain. This gives the software in our brain a boost in power which stimulates energy to the rest of the body. This is why you feel so good after an exercise session. If you are tired, fatigued or stressed an exercise session can rejuvenate you in a very short time.

Think of your exercise session as house cleaning, chasing away negative thoughts banishing them forever. Pills will never fix things – but exercise will. It is up to each of us to do whatever it takes to be calm, happy and fulfilled as a person. Exercise is a simple inexpensive gift we all have access to and can give ourselves. The investment will pay off in multiple ways right throughout our life.

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