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Mental health refers to one’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” New research has concluded that integrating regular physical exercise into one’s daily routine can yield similar results to medication. A major study found that physical activity spurs the release of proteins that cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections, which improves brain function and subsequently enhances mental health. 

How Exercise Boosts Mood

Depending on the individual’s physical ability and preference, different forms of exercise that could benefit one’s mental health could include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, aerobics, yoga, and more. The Academy of Neurological Therapy asserts that “exercise has been shown to help improve and prevent many conditions, including: weight management, stress levels, emotional regulation/ mood, memory, attention, strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and blood pressure regulation.” Researchers have identified several ways physical activity can trigger mood improvements and help with:

  • Releasing endorphins: participating in regular exercise is a natural way for one’s body to release endorphins, triggering positive feelings in one’s body and reducing pain. 
  • Commitment: committing to a regular exercise regimen can help a young person establish a positive relationship with following through on a goal, which can in turn increase his or her self-confidence. 
  • Self-esteem: Spending time mindfully taking care of one’s body can help enhance people’s sense of self-efficacy, which increases self-esteem, and reduces anxiety.
  • Distraction: physical exercise can serve as a distraction from unwanted thoughts and stressors, which also reduces anxiety.
  • Physical benefits: engaging in routine exercise can help an adolescent feel better physically and enhance sleep, strengthen muscles, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, increase endurance, and more. 

Akin to antidepressant medication, exercising can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin and norepinephrine) in the brain, boosting one’s mood. Studies have shown that exercise curtails responses from both the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction and minimizes hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, which is the hormonal feedback system that reacts to stress. Regular exercise results in physiological changes and adaptations in the human body, that can result in improved mental health.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

OUR KNOWLEDGEABLE ADMISSIONS TEAM CAN BE REACHED 24/7 AT INFO@PACIFICRTC.COM OR CALL: 800-531-5769 We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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