The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health - Buffalo Rehab Group
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The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

Apr 8, 2024 | Fitness & Wellness

In today’s fast-paced world, where stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life, finding ways to maintain both physical and mental well-being is crucial.

While we’re all aware of the importance of regular physical exercise, it’s often overlooked amidst busy schedules and demanding lifestyles. That said, you don’t have to run a marathon or spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits. Simply incorporating daily movement into your routine can make a significant difference.

Keep reading to learn two simple ways you can get moving.

Physical Exercise & Mental Health

Physical exercise is not just about breaking a sweat or building muscles; it’s about nurturing your body and mind. It’s a powerful tool for managing stress, improving mood, and enhancing overall well-being. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, practicing yoga, or engaging in a favorite sport, finding activities that get your body moving can have profound effects on your mental health.

Among the various forms of physical exercise, yoga stands out as a holistic approach to wellness that integrates the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga has long been celebrated for its numerous benefits, and in recent years, scientific research has increasingly supported its positive effects on mental health.

One of the key mechanisms through which yoga positively impacts mental health is its ability to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals play a crucial role in mood regulation, and engaging in activities like yoga has been shown to increase their production, leading to feelings of happiness and well-being. Moreover, yoga helps to reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health, contributing to conditions like anxiety and depression.

By incorporating the physical exercise of yoga regularly, individuals can effectively lower their stress levels and cultivate a greater sense of calm and relaxation.

Specific yoga poses, such as the runner’s lunge and crescent lunge, are particularly beneficial for mental health. These poses not only stretch and strengthen the body but also encourage deep breathing and mindfulness, promoting a sense of inner peace and balance.

Runner’s Lunge

  • Start in a standing position at the top of your yoga mat.
  • Step your right foot back into a lunge position, with your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your right leg extended behind you.
  • Lower your right knee to the ground if you need a modification. If you’d like more of a challenge, add a twist by placing your left hand on the ground and reaching your right arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the pose for five breaths, focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Crescent Lunge

  • Begin in a standing position, then step your right foot back into a lunge, like the runner’s lunge.
  • Again, you can lower your right knee to the ground for a modification.
  • Lift your arms above your head, making sure to actively engage your core.
  • Hold the pose for five breaths, focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Incorporating these poses into your daily routine can have profound effects on both your physical and mental health.
Not only will you experience improvements in strength, flexibility, and mobility, but you’ll also cultivate a greater sense of calm, balance, and overall well-being.

Want to learn more ways to improve your mental health?

Join our 2024 YMCA Wellness Series class, “Mindful Living: Simple Strategies for Mental Health,” on Tuesday, May 7th at 7:00PM. Embrace a calmer, more centered you as Licensed Mental Health Counselor Patrick Greene, of Horizon Health Services, guides you through simple yet powerful strategies to enhance your mental well-being.

Registration is free, class is held online, and a replay link will be readily available. Click below to register: