Let’s talk about it. We need to talk about it. Mental health and its relation to exercise. Mental health and the way it has reared its ugly head over the past few years has not gone unnoticed by most of society I would venture to guess. I know it has been present in my life and in so many of the lives of the people I love around me. I believe Covid and all that came with it, really threw many of us out of whack. Our lives changed. Even if we weren’t directly affected by it, we were all indirectly touched. Maybe you or someone you know lost their job. Perhaps you suffered great loss due to the illness. In whatever way it rattled your world, I do hope it was minimal and didn’t leave too much damage in its wake. It’s not just Covid that has increased the decline in our mental health. There are many reasons that we can attribute to the rise of people suffering from depression, anxiety and an all over feeling of unease. The tension in the world is palpable. The dramatic rise we’ve seen in child abuse, increased financial pressure, increased stress leading to poor sleep or even too much sleep. Our tendency to overeat or undereat while feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders. Our lack of physical movement and exercise. All of these things create the perfect storm. I want to hone in on one topic in particular. Mental health and exercise. I am passionate about it! I am convinced through personal experience and watching people I love suffer, that physical activity has a direct influence on how you feel mentally.

Exercise has proven to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and sleep disturbances. By getting out there and getting active, you also reduce the risk of isolating yourself. People need people.

When we participate in physical activity, our brain releases chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins that can quickly create a boost in your overall mood. By being a part of a gym or fitness facility, you can surround yourself with like minded individuals. It can and will reduce your feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Exercise will also help with increasing your energy level. When your mood is low, so is motivation. And it is there that we can become stuck. Exercising is probably the last thing you want to do when you are struggling with mental health issues. That makes perfect sense. It is here that we have to be very intentional. As a diabetic would take their insulin, you have to look at physical movement as medicine. No one else can do this for you. We can have support and encouragement from others but it has to come from within.

According to the CDC, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in our country. “Since the beginning of this year, 2023, there are an estimated 67 suicide deaths per day.” That number is mind boggling. We have the tools to reduce this number and reduce the amount of people struggling with mental illness. There are people and programs available in just a phone call. While I really wanted to focus on mental health and its direct connection to physical activity, I also want to make people aware that there are places to call should you find yourself in need of help. 988 is the suicide and crisis lifeline. There is someone available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a confidential support line that can connect you to the correct professionals.

“True enjoyment is from the activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.”  -Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Get out there friends. Invest in yourself. We have this one life and it is not to be wasted. Let’s move!

Submitted by Kara Krieger, Certified Coach at Prescott Fit Body Boot Camp