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Muscles and Exercise Are Important for Mental Health?
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
Tenafly, NJ
Monday, December 6, 2021

Muscles and Exercise Are Important for Mental Health?

Muscles are usually associated with keeping your body trim, attractive, and important for overall physical health. But did you know that muscles and exercise play an important role in your mental health, too? It may sound a bit farfetched, but research is telling us that, if we want to be mentally fit emotionally, and cognitively, we need to include exercise in our lives.

Exercise is often not thought of as something associated with our mental capacity or our ability to maintain our memory as our body ages. The myth is that with age comes a decrease in cognitive abilities., but too much research has been published to poke holes in that myth and to reveal a bright new day. It's a day where you can make the sun shine.

Where? You start out on that famous journey of 1000 miles with one step in the right direction. The first step is simple, regular exercise and it can be as easy as sitting in a chair and taking a one-pound dumbbell in your hand and raising it a few times.

I'm not a rehab specialist, but a psychologist, so I would refer you for some help from the local Community Center in your town where they may have expertise in exercise. If not there, why not the local YMCA? But let me give you more reasons to associate simple, mild exercise with keeping your mind intact.

A review of articles in a journal on exercise physiology indicated that there is growing evidence that exercise can help people develop their bodies and maintain their cognitive functioning "throughout their lifespan." One psychology professor indicated, "It's clear that exercise has a positive effect on the body and the brain." In fact, exercise in children should be a central part of their daily routine because it helps in cognitive development. If you want your child to do better in school, not only do they need to stick to learning how to read well, but they may need to learn how to run well.

Exercise may also contribute to a young adult's cognitive function and memory-related activities. Therefore, anyone beginning a new career as well as new activities in a learning situation would be wise to include exercise in their schedule for the week.

Depression has also been found to be lessened by an exercise regime. And some psychologists have indicated that exercise should be a part of therapy, as well as talking through difficulties. Some psychotherapists are beginning to make exercise a part of any treatment plans they provide for clients.

A professor of psychology at Boston University was quoted as saying, "People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes--and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action." In fact, the link between exercise and mood appears to be quite strong and even 5 minutes after moderate exercise has shown elevation in mood that was notable.

Persons who exercise have also been shown to have lower levels of depression and to be more active and actively involved in things in their lives than those who fail to exercise. It helps motivation, too. Research has also shown that individuals with major depression disorder, who lived sedentary lifestyles, could be helped with a program of exercise as well as if indicated, antidepressant medications.

The effect of exercise is robust and maintained by the body. After you exercise, your body continues to utilize its effects for hours to come. In other words, exercise has a long tail and it will contribute to your well-being well into the week.

Name two major health concerns. I bet you said heart disease and diabetes. We know that diabetes brings with it depression and a lot of medical research points to diabetes being associated with obesity. With depression comes its ugly twin, anxiety. What better way than exercise to help the physical challenge of body weight and the mental weight of depression and anxiety? It's a two-in-one game-winner.

What keeps people from exercising? Most of the non-exercisers don't want to be pushed to exhaustion by over-zealous trainers. No one said you had to "go for the burn." All you need to do is use those little hand weights or walk around your home or the block around your house when the weather is good.

In fact, walking outside, especially in an area with trees, is known as "forest therapy" and has shown great mental health results for months at a time for those who engage in it. There is also a belief that trees and flora give off substances that aid our health. All you need to do is walk around, not run or lift anything heavy.

What about tai chi? Have you ever thought of that as exercise? It's an activity built on slow, smooth movements and that, too, has incredible abilities to improve mental and physical health. Join a local club or watch a few YouTube videos on it to acquaint yourself.

The takeaway here is that exercise is doable for anyone, doesn't require equipment and the benefits are incalculable. 


Website: www.drfarrell.net

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Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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