Opinion: Fitness important for mental health


Photo courtesy of Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images. Hands of a girl putting freshly harvested vegetable in a basket.

Fitness is an important part of your mental health. Many have heard that saying but do not know the reasons why. According to Exercise and Brain Health, “Physical exercise increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus, the brain area important for learning and memory.”

Not only is it important to move around, but it is also important to eat well. Eating healthy improves your physical and mental health. Surprisingly depending on what you eat determines your mood. According to Medical News Today, “In 2016, researchers found that diets with a high glycemic load may trigger increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.”

Physical Actions

Have you ever felt no motivation during the day, so you lay in bed and stay on your phone? These actions may seem little but have genuine consequences. Business Insider addresses this and shares what would happen if you decide to stay in bed ‘forever.’

“In one week, you lose 1% of your muscle mass. Normally those muscles would suck sugar from your blood for energy to function. All of that unused sugar can build up in your bloodstream and lead to Type 2 diabetes.”

It’s not just the physical aspect you would have to be concerned about, but mostly the mental aspect. Stay in bed, and isolating yourself from the world takes a big toll on your mental health. There have also been an excessive amount of articles to show the importance of staying active to help with your mental health.

“A study of pregnant women found that bed rest increased their risk of anxiety and depression, and some women reported feeling isolated, out of control, and imprisoned,” said Andrea Schmitz and Shira Polan of Insider. You don’t need to be fit or have hard rock abs to feel better mentally. A simple walk or a chat with a friend can help a great ton. Just get up.

Benefits of just moving

According to The Jed Foundation, “Research shows that even modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. In fact, you can meaningfully benefit from 30-minutes of moderate activity per day, five times a week. A quick walk, a swim, or a quick workout at the gym can go a long way toward improving your well-being.”

You don’t have to be a fitness junky or even like working out. However, it is important to get up and move around and stay stuck in one spot throughout the day. Change the scenery, and keep moving.

The Jed Foundation also talks about the benefits of exercise, “It enhances your mood, research shows that exercise can help alleviate mild to moderate long-term depression. It can help reduce stress. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. It can give you a boost of energy, improve health, and helps give you a better, more restful sleep.”

Of course, do not do anything you cannot handle. Start slow. A simple walk in the park by yourself or with a group of friends can help as well. Or join a sport that you like to do. Chores can also be a form of exercise, just as long as you are up and doing something.

Good food, good mood

Believe it or not, the food you eat affects your mood. According to researchers, “A high-glycemic load diet was associated with higher depression symptoms, total mood disturbance, and fatigue compared to a low-glycemic-load diet.”

Here is a list for you below for those who may want to know which foods have low-glycemic.

  • Green vegetables
  • Oatmeal
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
  • All-Bran and Granola
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Most Fruits
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Plain Yogurt

According to Life Health Network, “Understanding the effects that diet has on mental health is incredibly important especially now because there are so many chronic diseases that have become more prevalent because of the highly processed food consumed by society.”

Eating healthy every day will increase your chances of having a better mood throughout the day. There are many reasons why eating healthy is important for your mental health.

Benefits of eating healthy

The benefits of eating healthy may not seem like much but help a lot in the long run. Eating healthy effects depression and fatigue. According to Medical News Today, “study also found that eating more fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil helped reduced depression symptoms.”

Fatigue is when someone feels physically and emotionally tired, it makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning and do regular daily tasks.

To help with that, it is important to have a good night’s sleep, which means not staying up on your phone till 3 a.m. A few tips from Medical News Today

  • Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day
  • Eat a snack that is low in sugar
  • Avoid junk food
  • Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening

Eating healthy, of course, helps with your heart health, reduces cancer risk, weight loss, and much more. One may not know is that it also helps improve memory. “A 2015 study identified nutrients and foods that protect against cognitive decline and dementia.”

Do not just rely on eating healthily and exercise to improve your mental health. It will help reduce it, but if you feel depressed, anxious or anything else, please make sure to reach out for help.