The positive effects of physical activity on the body have long been proven. People who exercise regularly generally feel much healthier and happier than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Proper exercise helps to strengthen muscles, improve blood flow, and boost mood and self-esteem. But beyond these obvious benefits, sports are a great complement to working on neurosis or anxiety disorders. After all, sports and mental health are very closely related.

Sports and mental health: how they are connected

Hypodynamia – a sedentary lifestyle – is one of the main threats to a person’s mental health. This includes sedentary work, lack of regular exercise, and lack of movement in general. Over time, hypodynamia can catalyze the manifestation of anxiety disorders. Indeed, it often happens that people who have led a physically active lifestyle, when they reduce the workload face similar problems. In this article, we’ll look at the 6 main factors linking sports and mental health.

Mental Health Benefits of Sports

The first and very important point is to get the body used to physical activity. After all, with panic attacks or severe anxiety, a person experiences many frightening symptoms, such as:

  • a sudden increase in heart rate;
  • a racing pulse;
  • tense muscles in the arms, legs;
  • confused shallow breathing, and more.

Frightened by them, many anxious people begin to measure their blood pressure and pulse constantly. At the slightest excess of the indicators, anxiety builds up, which further accelerates the body, thus causing a panic attack. This vicious circle leads over time to severe neurosis, the development of many phobias, and other unpleasant consequences.

By incorporating exercise into our daily routine, we become more confident in our bodies. Cardiophobia, for example, is worked through in this way. A person who suffers from a fear of a higher heart rate will, with regular exercise, eventually learn that it is safe. They will be able to gradually increase their workload, removing the frightening symptoms.

Sports help burn off excess adrenaline

During the day, the body produces large amounts of adrenaline. This is due, among other things, to the “run or fight” instinct we inherited from our ancestors. When we see danger, we tense up and our body prepares to attack or flee. Blood rushes to our muscles, our heartbeat increases – our body is ready to act.

But the modern world is such that dangers are increasingly illusory and present only in our minds. It is impossible to run away from them, it is impossible to attack them. But our body still produces adrenaline which must be burned. Otherwise, emotional and physical tension will accumulate, which over time can develop into psychosomatic illnesses.

Physical activity allows you to burn off this excess adrenaline. Stress will find a natural outlet, which means that the emotional state will improve. In this way, regular exercise allows you to properly channel energy, gradually improving your well-being.

Speaking of personal experience, I discovered this way of burning off excess psychological stress through sports back in college. At that time, after classes and part-time work, I would come home quite late and be often emotionally depressed. And in that state, I still had to do my homework, cook, and do other things. It seemed that if I allotted another half-hour or an hour for a jog, I would have even less time. In practice, however, it turned out to be the opposite – once I got rid of the extra tension, I was more energetic about everything I did, and if I didn’t do more, I definitely managed to do the same amount, regardless of the time I spent on the run.

Physical activity helps get rid of muscle blocks

Anxious people are characterized by muscle clamps and blocks. Faced with danger, even an imaginary one, the body gives a signal to strain the muscles. Constant anxiety leads to the fact that such tension becomes chronic. It leads to headaches, back discomfort, and many other unpleasant consequences. Prolonged work at the computer in an unnatural static posture also greatly contributes to this.

Accordingly, to normalize the emotional state you need to get rid of chronic muscle blocks. To do this, it is recommended to visit a masseur, to do a little exercise at work, and to try not to sit for more than 40 minutes in a row. It is extremely desirable to perform exercises during the day, to stretch the muscles, including the neck. Exercise is also extremely beneficial for muscle tone. Intense training allows them to fully relax after it. In addition, exhaustion after exercise is usually perceived as pleasant and well-deserved.

Sports and Mental Health: Raising Your Self-Esteem

Lack of satisfaction with your physical condition is one of the popular reasons for anxiety. At the same time, exercising and working out at the gym can help to regain self-confidence. Many people are deterred from working out by the fear of appearing weak and unprepared in front of the regulars. We are afraid to be ridiculed, judged, no one likes to look like a beginner. But the truth is, few people look at the people around them. Everyone has their own concerns and tasks, and everyone came to the gym for the first time at some point.

Developing discipline and responsibility

The exercise involves regular training and a serious attitude. By forming a new, physically active lifestyle, we become more responsible and develop our discipline. Working with your character will also have a positive effect on strengthening your nervous system. Not to mention the endorphin released when we engage in sports.

Endorphin is called the hormone of happiness, it is responsible for normalizing blood pressure, improving digestion, and even accelerating wound healing. And of course, it has a positive effect on our mood. Lack of endorphins in the body leads to chronic fatigue, lethargy, and apathy. Many people are used to unknowingly eating sweets or junk food for the lack of endorphins.

Athletic training is just the right way to restore the production of endorphins. When you do sports, the hormone is released into the blood not immediately, but 30-40 minutes after the start of the workout. And after it, the state of the body, in which the amount of the happiness hormone is increased, lasts for several hours. The amount of endorphin in the blood after an intense one-hour workout can increase 10 times!

Sport and mental health: a summary

Sport and physical activity is not always violence against oneself, as many people used to think. It does not necessarily have to consist in building an ideal body by means of exhausting workouts and diets. First of all, sport is something that helps us become healthier physically and emotionally.

Today there are dozens of interesting trends. Everyone can find something to their liking. Someone will be more comfortable pulling weights in the gym, and someone will prefer intensive soccer training. No less useful will be training in the pool, running in the park, yoga, or wrestling. Choosing the right direction, you can go there with pleasure, enjoying the process itself.

We all experience the excitement of starting something new. But we should not forget how important physical activity is for a healthy life. If we want to be healthy physically and emotionally, we can’t do without exercise. Of course, you shouldn’t try to get rid of anxiety or neurosis through sports alone, but sports can be a good auxiliary factor. Don’t forget how closely sports and mental health are linked.

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