What is the connection between your mental health and physical fitness? When health comes up for discussion, people think about their physical fitness, such as body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and hormonal functions. People rarely think about their mental health that much. It is essential to take into consideration that mental health is an important aspect of our lives. Many experts agree you should use meditation and stress management to stay healthy.
What is mental health?
Mental health comprises your psychological and social well-being. It has a substantial impact on how you function, feel, and perform. It also helps evaluate how you handle stressful situations, coordinate with others, and make unconventional life choices. Mental health is crucial at every phase of life, from childhood and teenage through adulthood.
Many factors affect the mental health of individuals, such as:
- Genetics and biological hormones
- Experiences of life, such as abuse or trauma
- Family history of mental health issues
With time, research has shown that it is essential to maintain good mental health. People do so by thinking right, keeping the mood in balance, and having a positive outlook on life. If you do so, your physical fitness will ultimately stay fine and healthy. It is common to compartmentalize the symptoms as mental or physical without thinking the two may be connected.
Most of the time, people overlook that our nervous system and other biological systems are intertwined. Poor mental health can cause poor physical fitness and vice versa. It is common to observe that you can maintain a sense of positivity, well-being, and strength when your mental health is exceptional.
Despite the difficulties in life, you can deal with the problems without falling sick. But as soon as you stop engaging in activities that maintain better mental well-being and health, mental resilience goes away.
The relationship between mental and physical fitness
Can you think about the last time you were under a lot of stress? You may have noticed some physiological symptoms, such as an upset stomach, higher blood pressure, or a terrible headache. Most probably, the symptoms went away as soon as you eliminated the stressful element. But long-term conditions can have complex responses and daunting symptoms.
When the human body is going through mental health issues for an extended time, such as chronic anxiety or depression, some serious physical fitness disorders may arise, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Breathing related issues
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
For instance, multiple types of research and studies have found that individuals perform problematic exercises with feasibility if they are mentally peaceful. Comparatively, if they are mentally fatigued, they reach the point of exhaustion and frustration more rapidly. There have been hundreds of studies showing the strong association between the mind and body for overall health.
According to the information provided by psychologists and neurologists, mental health conditions are common among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, back pain and headaches, and asthma. Individuals who have a mental illness are 2 to 3 times more likely to have diabetes than the general population.
The physical characteristics of illnesses are present in poor mental health because of medications’ side effects. Multiple lifestyle factors are responsible for the complexities, such as no physical activity or poor dietary routine.
People with mental health conditions are less likely to get the physical help and support they need. They rarely get routine check-ups and evaluations, which may show problems such as heart conditions, obesity, and higher levels of cholesterol.
Examples of association between mental and physical fitness
Being mentally fit means being physically fit; this means finding positive methods to deal with what psychologists consider negative emotions such as fear, anxiousness, and anger. Any form of imbalance can cause physical fitness to deteriorate.
A typical example of this association can be uncontrollable anger, which can lead to heart issues. Individuals who have problems dealing with their aggravation or frustration are more likely to be at risk for future heart failures.
Similarly, bad sleeping habits are simply a symptom of mental health issues. If the body is under constant stress, the hormones may affect the circadian cycles, which control sleep patterns.
Another example includes schizophrenic individuals. Because of their paranoid symptoms and hallucinations, these individuals have double the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disorders. These individuals are vulnerable to respiratory diseases, as well.
Social interactions play a vital role in the physical fitness of individuals. People that have mental health challenges are mostly isolated. They do not have any social gatherings or a support system to depend on. Loneliness and social resistance increase the risk of mortality by increasing physical fitness complications, such as higher blood pressure and compulsive eating, leading to obesity.
Depression and the immune system
We know depression as one of the most commonly occurring mental health issues across the globe. The condition influences motivation levels and moods and can directly affect the immune system. If an individual is depressed for a prolonged duration, the T cell responses suppress bacteria and viruses. As a result, the body is more vulnerable to sicknesses.
A weakened immunity may cause a sudden increase in the levels of allergies or asthma. Some studies recommend that the process be the other way around; immunity may lead to depression. Stress in a chronic form starts a response within the nervous system. This inflammatory response can be an essential factor for depressive symptoms.
A recent approach to inflammation resulted from immune cells and depression involved the alteration of immune receptors. The research exposed test subjects to multiple stressful symptoms and noted that stress causes the brain to release cytokines.
Cytokines are proteins that have connections with inflammation. Their release may be harmful to the brain components that perform cognitive functions. The researchers found depressive symptoms stimulated as an outcome of the immunity’s stress response.
If your immunity is strong, it presents your physical well-being, but stress increases the chances of depressive symptoms. These symptoms may further result in complications, causing a deteriorating cycle.
Mental health and fatigue
Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other mood disorders cause a feeling of exhaustion or tiredness. Most individuals think these issues are insignificant or inappropriate, but this is not the case. Mental fatigue and tiredness cause physical tiredness, as well.
According to a study performed in Wales, mental challenge significantly affects physical characteristics and capacities. The participants were involved in different physical activities as groups. One group acted on usual instructions. The second group performed an additional 90 minutes task with memory, emotional reactions, and stimuli responses.
After being involved in the mental challenge, the second group felt physically tired and a little lazy. While performing the physical task, these individuals reached the exhaustion point 10% earlier.
We associate mental illnesses with fatigue and physical tiredness. A consistent amount of strain on the nervous system can easily destroy physical fitness components. When people suffer from chronic depression, they are less likely to perform any form of physical activity. Even if they start something, they quit early on, with no motivation for the future.
The strength of positive emotions
As we have established so far that mental health has a substantive effect on an individual’s physical fitness, and positive emotions play a significant role. According to the studies, optimism and positive thoughts link with cardiovascular health. These factors may decrease the rate of disease progression, as well.
Different psychological elements, such as life satisfaction, happiness, and motivation, are linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Regardless of an individual’s age, gender, or cultural background, if an individual thinks right, the body reacts the same way.
Several researchers have highlighted that the most optimistic individuals have about 40% less chance of getting a heart attack or stroke. In contrast, negative emotions such as chronic stress wear down the physiological systems and cause several physical issues.
What can improve mental health?
If you are struggling with a mental condition or are failing to cope with stress or anxiety, you can follow some simple steps. These will improve the severity of mental symptoms and enhance your physical fitness in the long run.
Self-care is any activity you are involved in to improve or conserve your present mental well-being. The activities involved with self-care have two imperative objectives: providing health boundaries and forming the capability to deal with life’s trials.
The very first thing you can do as a self-care routine is to maintain a sleep routine. Not being able to sleep properly or getting a few hours of sleep can escalate mental health issues. According to the studies performed on sleep patterns, people with a history of insomnia are four times as likely to be depressive.
Balanced sleep patterns are significant for teenagers. Without enough sleep, these individuals cannot make suitable decisions nor have strong immunity. Proper sleep every night can improve academic performance, behavioral responses, and mental health capacities overall.
Another crucial element is leisure activities. Working alone on a creative project or reading a book can be some methods of reducing depressive symptoms. You do not have to do something complicated or costly. Simple things such as gardening, cooking classes, or art projects can do the trick.
2. Proficient Treatment
If you think that your mental health is not up to the mark or feel you are always struggling, seeking treatment can be beneficial. In most cases, mental illness requires support from qualified professionals. Techniques such as dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) and counseling teach individuals how to deal with mental challenges.
There are different methods present that may work as a treatment for individuals struggling with mental health issues. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises may positively affect thoughts, feelings, and emotions consistently.
3. Improve Lifestyle Habits
To have mental peace and remarkable physical fitness, improving lifestyle habits can be extremely beneficial. It would be best if you incorporated some physical workout routine to keep your mind distracted and refreshed. Making healthier food choices can be optimal, as well. If you are not sure about what to eat, try downloading some smartphone apps that provide recommendations on healthy eating habits.
Limiting screen time can be a useful method to improve mental health for physical fitness. Living in a world full of technological gadgets and applications, it isn’t easy to find simple activities. But limiting the use of phones and laptops may eliminate the stress factors from your life. Using media in moderation is absolutely helpful because it cuts down the negativity from the outside world effectively.
Studies have shown that people with strong social interactions, such as family and friends, are happier. Having a suitable social connection can definitely have a positive effect on mental health. For people at risk of developing depressive symptoms, social gatherings and discussions can be useful.
The Last Word on the Connection between Mental Health and Physical Fitness
The connection between mental health and physical fitness is complex, as explained. It is imperative to know about different mental health issues and how they can affect the body’s physical processes. If you think you are going through some symptoms already, making a suitable and valid change in the routine may have positive outcomes.
If you feel you need extra help and advice, consulting a psychologist or therapist may provide all the solutions. With the help of positive discussions and the exchange of information, you can talk about the difficulties and ultimately let go of the stressful elements.