Exercise as a method of improving mental health Pt 2
This information can be better applied if we understand the reasons why exercise can help. Opinions differ on this, but here are some possible explanations:
- If a person experiences the release of adrenaline, the body is preparing to fight or flee. If they do neither, where does the adrenaline go? It may cause shaking, which is often suppressed. This can lead to a build up, resulting in physiological and psychological harm. Exercise will get rid of the adrenaline in the same way as fighting or fleeing would do and so prevent the harmful build up.
- During exercise (particularly aerobic), the brain releases endorphins: the bodyâs âfeel goodâ hormone. Exercise can literally give you a high.
- Exercise can result in a eustress response. That is a âgood stressâ response. Other eustresses may be (for some!) riding rollercoasters, watching horror movies or falling in love.
- Exercise warms the body. You know how good a hot bath or shower or sauna can make you feel? Perhaps the same result can be obtained from exercise.
- Exercise can provide a distraction and/or time out from otherwise stressful situations.
- Exercise can result in an increase in self-efficacy. This theory suggests that clients may simply feel better about themselves because they have done something, or achieved something.
- Increased fitness or improved body shape can result in an increase in confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Thatâs quite a lot of possibilities, for comparatively little effort. And it improves health too!