Men’s Health Week
Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase, usually translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. The phrase is widely used in sporting and educational contexts to express the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being. This week (June 12-18th) is “Men’s Health Week” and this year’s theme is… “HEALTHY BODY – HEALTHY MIND: KEEPING THE BALANCE”. So fellas, in today’s blog, we are going to explore the ways physical activity can improve your mental health!
Rough day at the office or building site? Then it’s time to head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Exercise increases concentrations of noradrenalin, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress and helps regulate your mood. So go work up a sweat, and in the process reduce your stress and mental tension.
Boost happy chemicals.
Whether you’re running laps at footy training or hitting the bags at your local boxing gym, your body is flooded with a release of endorphins. It’s these endorphins which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among those with clinical depression. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re time poor, just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.
Other than helping you look and feel good, physical activity can provide many opportunities for personal, inner growth. This may occur when you are praised by teammates or coaches, when you are awarded with a trophy or new level, and even by just winning a game or match.
Enjoy the great outdoors.
Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, canoeing or just taking the dog for a walk. The vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Exactly how vitamin D works in the brain isn’t fully understood. One theory is that vitamin D affects the release monoamines, such as serotonin, and how they work in the brain. Whatever the process, there is no disputing how the feeling of some sunshine on your face makes you feel good, especially at this time of year!
Prevent cognitive decline.
It’s not just grey hairs and wrinkles that start to appear as we get older – our brains can start to get a little hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the brain actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
Which is better at relieving anxiety—a massage or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity.
Various studies on mice have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. They suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.
Are you having trouble remembering conversations at work or home? Have you forgotten your mother’s birthday or wedding anniversary? Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Working out increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning.
Help control addiction.
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritise cravings (at least in the short term).
Ever hit the sack after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
Get more done.
Feeling uninspired in your work cubicle? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.
Tap into creativity.
For most people, a tough workout can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see above). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.
Matthew has done further study in Men’s Health. So if you need pelvic floor retraining, help sorting out your nagging injuries, advice on what exercise best suits your body or anything else Men’s Health related, contact us here at Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates for all your Men’s Health needs.