What is the connection between your mental health and physical fitness? When health comes up for discussion, people generally think about their physical fitness, such as body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, hormonal functions, etc. People usually do not think about their mental health that much. It is essential to take into consideration that mental health is an important aspect of our lives.
What is mental health?
Mental health comprises our psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. It has a substantial impact on how we function, feel, and perform. It also helps evaluate how people handle stressful situations, coordinate with others, and make different life choices. Mental health is crucial at every phase of life, from childhood and teenage through adulthood.
There are many factors which 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, the research has indicated that it is essential to maintain good mental health. People do so by thinking right, keeping the mood in balance, and have 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 times, people overlook the fact 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 ups and downs 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 the stressful element was eliminated. 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 a problematic exercise 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 indicating 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 due to medications’ side effects. There are multiple lifestyle factors 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 assistance and support they need. They usually do not get routine check-ups and evaluations, which may indicate 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 the psychologists generally 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 the sleep patterns.
Another example includes schizophrenic individuals. Due to their paranoid symptoms and hallucinations, these individuals have double the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disorders. Consequently, these individuals are vulnerable to many 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
Depression is known as one of the most commonly occurring mental health issues across the globe. The condition influences the motivation levels and moods and can directly impact 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 and exposed to sicknesses.
A weakened immunity may cause a sudden increase in the levels of allergies or asthma. Some of the studies recommend that the process be the other way around; the immunity may lead to depression. Stress-in a chronic form-initiates 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. In other words, the researchers found that 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 generally cause a feeling of exhaustion or tiredness. Most individuals think that 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 the physical characteristics and capacities. The participants were involved in different physical activities in the form of groups. One group acted on usual instructions. The second group performed an additional 90 minutes task with constituents of 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.
Mental illnesses are associated 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, without any 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, 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 starts to think right, the body reacts the same way.
Several researchers have highlighted that the most optimistic individuals have about a 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 conserving 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 ups and downs.
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. A proper amount of sleep every night can improve academic performance, behavioral responses, and mental health capacities overall.
Another main 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 like 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 the 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 moderations is absolutely helpful because it cuts down the negativity from the outside world effectively.
Studies have indicated 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 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 like you need extra help and advice, consulting a psychologist or therapist may provide all the solutions. With the help of positive discussions and exchange of information, you can talk about the difficulties and ultimately let go of the stressful elements.