Minding Your Mental Health

Exercise ‘a go to’ for wellbeing

Dr  Eddie Murphy

Reporter:

Dr Eddie Murphy

Exercise ‘a go to’ for wellbeing

For me exercise is my go when it comes to my wellbeing writes Dr Eddie Murphy.

More recently I have a new walking buddy - Sam the dog! He has helped me pump up my daily steps and has definitely boosted my mental health. Below are the five top impacts of exercise on mental health.

1. Help for depression and anxiety
Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Physical activity kicks up endorphin levels, the body’s famous “feel good” chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. Even just moderate exercise throughout the week can improve depression and anxiety, so much so that some doctors recommend trying out an exercise regimen for these conditions before turning to medication.

2. Decreased stress
Another mental benefit of exercise is reduced stress levels — something that can make us all happier. Increasing your heart rate can actually reverse stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which not only improve cognition and mood but improve thinking clouded by stressful events. Exercise also forces the body’s central and sympathetic nervous systems to communicate with one another, improving the body’s overall ability to respond to stress.

3. Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
From improving endurance to losing weight and increasing muscle tone, there’s no shortage of physical achievements that come about from regular exercise. All those achievements can all add up to a whopping boost of self-esteem. You may not set out for better-fitting clothes, a slimmer physique, and the ability to climb a hill without getting winded. Often times it happens before you even realise it. It’s just one of the many benefits of physical activity that boost your body, mind, and spirit.

4. Better sleep
If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, exercise can help with that, too. Physical activity increases body temperature, which can have calming effects on the mind, leading to less sheep counting and more shuteye. Exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, our bodies’ built-in alarm clock that controls when we feel tired and when we feel alert but sleep experts recommend not exercising close to bedtime.

5. Brain boost
From building intelligence to strengthening memory, exercise boosts brainpower in a number of ways. Studies on mice and humans indicate that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells — a process called neurogenesis — and improve overall brain performance. It also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Q Dr Eddie Murphy is a clinical psychologist, author and mental health expert. ONLINE CBT - STOP DEPRESSION - STOP ANXIETY - available at https://stratushealthcare.ie/mental-wellbeing/