Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness by the Fire: How a Fitness Life Style Improves your Mental Health.

by Ron Kennedy • April 03, 2019
A fitness lifestyle (as we define it) is an all-encompassing commitment to maximize the potential and longevity of the mind and body for as long as we can maintain it. When the word “fitness” comes to mind, most have visions of packed gyms, body builders, treadmills, sweating, and denying yourself the God given comfort foods you deserve after a hard day’s work. Though the aforementioned statement does correlate with exercise, one of the primary elements, and benefits, produced by dedicating yourself to a health and wellness lifestyle was certainly brushed over by the description I gave above, and more than likely over looked by even yourself. Mental health.

Let’s be honest, without a well-maintained cockpit, no machine is going to work the way it is supposed to. This is made evident to us even as children, as though our parents told us to work hard for what we want in life, but to also take the time to savor the little experiences. I am sure you have encountered someone you considered very successful, but due to over-working, or the stress and anxiety of their habits involving work were far from happy or what you would consider “mentally healthy”. Fitness can shape the body into a form beyond our wildest dreams, it can make you stronger, faster, more agile, lose weight, and even gain muscle, but it SHOULD (not can) most certainly make you mentally more stable and well rounded.

“So, what are the benefits to exercise and mental health?”

Stress Reduction.

Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’ response to stress. Despite your mood, typically exercise can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension.

Improve Self-Confidence.

Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness and self-worth by leaps and bounds.

Boost “Feel Good” Chemicals.

Slogging through a few miles on the treadmill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, doctors recommend that people suffering from depression and anxiety pencil in consistent time at the gym. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost your overall mood.

Alleviate Anxiety.

Pop Quiz: Which is more effective at relieving anxiety — a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And you thought jogging was just a good way to burn calories!

Prevent Cognitive Decline.

 It’s sad, but true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the brain begins to shrink, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, it can help to reinforce the brain to combat cognitive decline that begins after age 45 Exercise, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

One a serious and personal note, I have worked with many people over my 16-year career as a fitness professional with cognitive declines and or disorders. I have progressed with every single one of them, some responding better than others. Yet, the one thing that every one of those people that I had the honor to work had in common is the following statement;” I wish I would have begun this sooner.”  Breaks my heart every time. You see they didn’t realize the value of exercise on their cognitive response until it was too late. They neglected, if not flat out ignored their commitment to fitness, and no one can slip out on that bill when the time comes. Don’t make their mistake… do something about it now. Please.

Boost Brainpower.

 Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells, neurogenesis, and improve overall mental processing performance. Ready to apply for a Nobel Prize? Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein known as BDNF in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

Tap into Creativity.

 Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should follow up a good training session with a protein shake and an art class. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature. Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.

Get S#!T done.

Feeling uninspired in the cubicle (Which I wouldn’t blame you if you do work in a cubicle)? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that mid-day is the ideal time for a workout du