Friday, June 24, 2016

Exercise and Mental Health

It is no secret that physical exercise is so important for the health of your body. What may be more surprising are the benefits of exercise to your mental health and overall well-being. There are significant ways exercise supports mental health! You have likely heard of the "runner's high", the endorphins (the feel good chemicals) that get released during exercise and other physical activity. Beyond the endorphin release are multiple other reasons to lace up your sneakers and take a walk, or head to the gym. Some of these include:

-Taking the time out for yourself: When else do you make time just for YOU? 
-Making yourself a priority (body and mind).
-Physical activity allows you to focus on the task at hand, and practice being in the moment. A chance to put aside the to-do list/worries/concerns temporarily. 
-You get the opportunity to try new workouts and change it up if you get bored of the latest one. For example, if you are tired from running try a spinning class, yoga, interval training, or any other activity that keeps you moving, motivated and stimulated.
-Challenging yourself-ever thought about rock climbing, trapezeing, or signing up for a 5k run? There may be physical activities that sound intimidating if they are new, but it also allows you the chance to try out something different. By pushing yourself outside your comfort zone you may experience a confidence boost as well.
-Fun-if you prefer to walk with a friend, or join a club sports team it is a great chance to catch up and/or meet new friends and connect while doing your body and mind some good.
-Control-We certainly do not have control over some parts of life, but we can control what we decide to do with our bodies. By keeping a structured time to exercise your muscles allows you to have a little bit of what you can control while perhaps keeping some anxiety at ease.
-Chance to modify-Physical injuries, disabilities or limitations do not necessarily have to keep you from being active; you may need to modify what you had been doing for example, if you were running 3 times per week and developed a foot injury you may need to explore other options such as swimming or bike riding to alleviate pressure on a certain body part while continuing to achieve the benefits of regular exercise.

While it seems easy to come up with an excuse not to exercise, see if you can find a reason TO make that time for yourself.  If starting a new or different exercise routine it is encouraged to check with your physician first. If you are thinking about making some changes in your lifestyle and would like to explore this further with one of our therapists, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at or 240-274-5680 or visit our website at

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