Exercise and Mental Health

We all know that regular exercise has health benefits.   Exercise helps reduce blood pressure, increase lung capacity, aid with maintaining or losing weight, reduce diabetes risk among others.  All these benefits help us live a longer more functionally active life.   Additionally, it has been demonstrated that regular exercise can have mental health benefits as well.  We often are in a better mood during and after exercise.  Exercise can reduce stress, anxiety and depression and even improve self esteem and sleep.  Exercise can help improve one’s ability to focus even in those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Exercise can help with memory and cognitive function.  It increases blood flow to the brain to help you think more clearly and increases the size of the hippocampus, a portion of the brain responsible for memory.  Exercise can also increase the nerve connections in the brain that helps with memory and brain functions which may help with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

If you are injured in an auto, sport, or work mishap it not uncommon to feel lethargic, unmotivated, or depressed afterward as you are recovering and possibly unable to do your normal activities.  Getting into a regular exercise routine, when you are able to, can make you physically stronger but additionally it will boost your mood which is often affected when you are injured and unable to do all the same activities you did prior to the injury.  Post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) can result after auto, sport, or work injuries.  Exercise has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

Most recommendations call for daily (6-7 days/week) exercise of at least 30 minutes that is at a moderate to intense level.  Fast walking, running, biking, swimming, calisthenics, weight lifting are all recommended exercises.  This does not have to be all done at once but can be divided into smaller 5-10-15 minute sessions to fit into any schedule.  If you miss a day that’s okay make it up on another day when you have more time.

Many people start an exercise routine but do not carry on with it.  To make it successful, find activities that you enjoy and build it into your daily schedule so it is a normal part of your life and not an additional add on at the end of the day that may get left undone.  Ask friend or family to join you in your exercise to help you stay on task and to keep you motivated.  Consistency is a key component of a successful exercise program whether for physical or mental well-being.  If you are in need of more specific exercise recommendations for your rehabilitation from an injury, please call to make an appointment with one of our chiropractors in SE Portland, or Aloha-Beaverton, OR.