Five benefits of exercise on mental health, such as 'improved self-esteem' and 'reduced depressive symptoms'

Moderate exercise has been shown to not only help maintain physical

health, but also has a positive effect on brain health. Therefore, Josephine Perry, a sports and exercise psychologist who belongs to the British Psychological Association , explained the specific effects of exercise on mental health in five parts.

Five mental health benefits of exercise | Live Science

◆ 1: Depression symptoms are alleviated
A 2017 study involving 33,908 healthy Norwegians found that people who exercised more than an hour a week were 12% less likely to develop depression in the future. In a 2007 study of 200 patients already diagnosed with depression, exercise was as effective as taking antidepressants, with some improving symptoms by as much as 70%. It is known that exercise can be expected to both prevent and improve depression.

◆ 2: Relieve anxiety
Exercise has also been shown to be effective against anxiety, which often accompanies the symptoms of depression. A 2019

study that analyzed 13 papers on the relationship between mental health and aerobic exercise by meta-analysis confirmed that those who exercised well had less symptoms of anxiety than those who did not. I did.

Researchers speculate that exercise may help relieve depression and anxiety by conditioning the areas of the brain that recognize threats around us. For example, parts such as the amygdala, which are involved in the processing of emotions, secrete hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol when a threat approaches them, and have the role of fighting or escaping or reacting to protect themselves.

When the body becomes tense due to a fight or flight or reaction, the respiratory rate and blood flow increase and the muscles become stiff so that the threat can be dealt with at any time. It is said that exercising has the effect of relaxing the body and relaxing the stiff muscles in this fight or flight or reaction.

◆ 3: Improve children's problem behavior
In the book Psychology of Physical Activity, published in 2021, the authors announced that exercise significantly improves children's behavior. Behavioral and behavioral improvements are beneficial to everyone, but especially to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , Perry points out.

◆ 4: Increased connections with people and reduced loneliness
The feeling of having a place and a sense of belonging are important for many people, because the state of not being able to feel a relationship with people leads to a feeling of loneliness. In particular, in modern society with advanced technology and urbanization, it is said that it is easy to fall into a state called

'anomie' where social ties are lacking and a strong sense of alienation is felt.

According to Mr. Perry, regular physical activity is especially important at the turning point of life, as it is effective for having a sense of purpose and organizing thoughts. In addition, becoming more active and engaging with people not only prolongs lifespan, but also enhances quality of life and satisfaction in life.

◆ 5: Self-esteem improves
The closer you are to your ideal self and the real self you want to be, the higher your self-esteem. In particular, people who exercise well have a strong body and high athletic ability, so self-awareness becomes positive and it becomes easier to approach the ideal image.

When exercise improves your self-esteem, you gain confidence and improve your body image, which in turn improves your mental health. In fact, a 2007 study that followed the physical activity and self-esteem of 197 girls aged 9 to 11 over a long period of time confirmed that children with high physical activity also had higher levels of self-esteem two years later.

No matter how much you know that exercise is good for your mental health, it is difficult to do full-scale exercise when you are depressed. However, Perry said about the amount of exercise that can improve mental health, 'It is said that five times a week, which is less than many people imagine, a total of about 150 minutes is enough. That is, if you exercise about 30 minutes a day, you can do it. You can enjoy the benefits of mental health. Also, I know that the longer you exercise, the more effective it is, so instead of sticking to exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes, try various exercise styles. I think it's a good idea to look at it. Above all, it is important to continue to ensure long-term benefits. '

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