Most people exercise for physique and physical health. While some do it to improve their waistline, others engage in exercises to challenge themselves. However, exercising also improves your overall well-being. There are multiple mental health benefits for service members who regularly exercise. People who exercise regularly sleep better, have sharper memories, and are more relaxed throughout the week.
No doubt, regular exercise can have a profound effect on your mental health, according to research. It can help with ADHD, anxiety, and depression among others. Exercise also improves your memory, relieves stress and enhances the overall mood. Its clear that there are many mental health benefits of exercise. Here are ten specific ways that exercise can help service members improve their mental health.
- PTSD and Trauma
Service members returning from the war zone are often affected by the horrors experienced on the battleground. Research suggests that exercising can help your nervous system get unstuck from the immobilization stress associated with trauma and PTSD.
Focus on how your body feels as you exercise. Pay close attention to the physical feelings within your muscles and joints and keep your mind from wandering. Exercises that involve both legs and arms and cross-movement, such as walking and running are some of
When under constant stress, your muscles around the shoulders, neck, and face become rigid. This causes headaches and painful shoulders and neck which affect the quality of your life. You
may feel muscle cramps, a tightness in your chest and painful headaches. Exercises effectively release endorphins that help break the cycle by releasing tension in the body and allowing the muscles to relax. Mainly, increasing your heart rate improves cognition through the production of norepinephrine that can help get rid of clouded thoughts. It also allows the sympathetic nervous system and the body’s central nervous system to communicate with each other and deal with stress effectively.
- ADHD You can reduce symptoms of ADHD simply by exercise, and improve motivation, concentration, memory, and mood. Physical activity increases the production of the brain’s norepinephrine, dopamine, and levels of serotonin, the hormones that affect concentration and mood. Sometimes, exercise can have the same effect as some of the ADHD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin.
- Better Sleep Good quality slumber is vital to your overall well-being, and especially so for the servicemen. It is when you are deep asleep that the nervous system produces the growth hormone to promote cell repair and improve your overall well-being. Even the short bursts of physical activity in the evening can help regulate sleep patterns. Gentle stretching and yoga can do the trick to help you sleep better at night.
- Depression Some recent studies indicate that exercising can help manage mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication, and of course, without the side effects. One of the studies showed that walking for an hour or running for about 15 minutes reduces the risk of major depression by up to 26% – quite significant if you think about it. Research also suggests that maintaining an exercise schedule prevents you from relapses. Exercise promotes different kinds of changes in your brain, such as new activity patterns, reduced inflammation, neural growth, which all promote feelings of well-being and calmness. The feel-good hormones released when exercising create feelings of euphoria and happiness that you need to face the challenges that you come across.
- Energy and Productivity Research also suggests that maintaining an exercise schedule prevents you from relapses. Exercise promotes different kinds of changes in your brain, such as new activity patterns, reduced inflammation, neural growth, which all promote feelings of well-being and calmness.
- Anxiety Exercise can be quite useful in releasing tension and stress. It boosts mental and physical energy by releasing endorphins and enhancing your overall well-being. Typically, anything that gets you moving such as the recumbent bike can be quite effective with anxiety. Keep tabs on the rhythm of your breathing or your feet hitting the ground. You can as well focus on the sensation of the wind on your skin. Such mindfulness can interrupt the thought process that leads to anxiety and other psychological problems.
- Higher Self-Esteem Regular activity has numerous benefits on your mind, body, and soul. When you make exercise a daily habit, your sense of self-worth improves and you can move forward with confidence and good spirits. You are stronger and you feel better about your appearance and achieving your goals becomes more natural. The physical achievements of exercising, such as better muscle tone and weight reduction, can significantly add to your self-esteem. Before you realize it, your ability to climb a hill or a slimmer physique becomes a reality. As a serviceman, a sense of self-esteem is essential to fulfilling your duties effectively. Without self-confidence, you can endanger your life and that of others.
- Stronger Resilience Emotional and mental challenges are part and parcel of life. Instead of resorting to drugs and alcohol, exercises can help cope with some of these emotional and mental challenges. Regular exercises produce endorphins and other feel-good hormones to reduce the impact of stress and enhance the immune system. Short burst exercises help de-prioritize particular cravings, at least in the short-term. Moderate practices of at least 30 minutes per day are quite sufficient for emotional and mental resilience. You can perform strength training at least twice a week to accrue the most benefits.
- Brain Power and Sharper Memory Regular exercise enhances neurogenesis or the growth of new brain cells and helps keep the age-related decline at bay. Frequent exercising also increases the production of a brain-derived protein that helps with memory and decision-making. Another way that physical activity improves your brainpower is by supporting an improved production of cells in the hippocampus, section of the brain responsible for learning and memory. You become a sharper and more active serviceman that effectively serves your country, and that is the main idea.
There are so many great things about regular fitness activities. In this post we highlighted the mental health benefits exercise, which are especially important for service members.