Doctors, medical researchers, and fitness gurus have been promoting the benefits of regular exercise for many years. Although people often talk about benefits related to muscle density, strength, and joint protection, physical exercise also helps improve mental health and overall recovery during and/or after a serious physical event like an accident, an acute or chronic illness, a surgery, or an addiction problem. Dealing with a mental illness, trauma, or other event can be devastating, but learning to cope through physical exercise is becoming a common method of release and recovery. Consider these top three mental recovery benefits of exercise.
Improved Mood and Self-Esteem
Regular exercise flushes toxins, fat, and waste and improves the oxygen-rich blood flow through your body that’s important to healthy cell function. As your thirst and hunger increase, you’re more likely to drink water instead of sugar-laden beverages that destabilize the mind, and adopt a healthy diet that provides your body with critical nutrients that help to prevent certain types of depression. If you choose outdoor exercise, you’re more likely to increase your intake of mood-improving vitamin D from sunlight exposure. All of these elements can result in a body that feels fewer aches and pains, a mind that experiences fewer mood alterations, and a healthier, stronger outward appearance that makes you look and feel better.
Fewer Self-Destructive Tendencies and Beliefs
If you’re fighting off depression related to an unhealthy body, then you’re less likely to feel self-destructive and perform self-destructive acts like abuse alcohol or drugs when you use exercise as part of your treatment. Addiction treatmentoften centers around helping treat the mental addiction with therapy and group sessions, but when exercise is included, it can make the process a lot more effective. Professionals can help you make your physical and mental health and overall life better through a variety of supportive therapies.
Heightened Cognitive Skills and Focus
With a healthier body, your brain is more likely to work at optimal levels that make it easier for you to make connections, come up with ideas, and focus. As you think more clearly, you’re better able to organize and plan for the present and the future. Also, the act of following a daily positive exercise routine helps distract you from negative thoughts and desires. If you go to a gym, schedule an in-home trainer, or exercise with loved ones, you will probably feel less alone. All of these benefits translate into a mental state that promotes focus on hope and potential more than despair and self-created limitations.
Ask your family doctor to help you set up an exercise routine that works around the current state of your health. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy. For more information on using physical therapy as part of addiction treatment and other recoveries, check out the link.