One very important and often highly neglected treatment of a variety of medical brain disorders is exercise. Daily exercise. I cannot stress how important this is, yet maintaining consistency with exercise when dealing with mental illness is extremely difficult. Some days, many people cannot even get out of bed. Other people are terrified of being in public places (which eliminates a gym or an outdoor walk).
One way to get moving each day and to stay at it is to have an accountability buddy. A family member, close friend or even a support group are some wonderful examples to get needed support for a daily exercise regime, especially if you are suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. Try not to do this alone. Make it fun and do not be afraid to ask for support.
The importance of mood-tracking journals are tools in helping manage certain mood disorders, but so is keeping an exercise journal. Note each day how you feel before and after exercise, your strength levels, energy improvements, how you sleep each night, and especially any changes to your moods and overall look upon life. I believe you will find that keeping a journal will document amazing and positive results!
Movement is so good for the body, spirit and mind. Activity and exercise are very important for people living with mental illness. Most of all, try to find an exercise activity you really enjoy! Individuals living with mental illness often have a higher risk for heart disease, and exercise can play a key part in a wellness plan. Activity and exercise are great ways to combat factors that are part of heart disease risk, stress, high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes-all problems commonly found among people living with mental illness. Did you know that exercise plays a key part in elevating your mood and regulating sleep patterns?
The benefits of exercise does make a difference with depression, including severe clinical depression. Whether you take medication or choose to manage without, an active lifestyle is important for everyone. This is particularly true for those living with schizophrenia and who are on second-generation atypical antipsychotic medication (SGAs) because they are more vulnerable to obesity.
“Exercise is central to my mental health. As a person living with schizophrenia, stress exacerbates my illness, worsening my symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia. Exercise counteracts the stress, enabling me to see issues clearly, reality test, and judge things more accurately.
Fitness also takes me out of my isolated apartment and into the community. As I interact with people at the gym or along outdoor walks, my torturous inner-voices subside as my mind is distracted by the exercise and more at peace. I began exercising as a competitive runner long before I became ill – and two lessons I learned from those early days that have stayed with me throughout my decade-long struggle with schizophrenia are: “a winner never quits and a quitter never wins” and “there is no finish line.” ~Lisa H.
In addition to the countless physical benefits, exercise does have vast psychological benefits. Studies show that exercise can increase the amounts of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in your brain. The increased levels of neurotransmitters can help treat many disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, as well as help you to feel more energetic overall.
Lastly, just having hope in something healthy, positive and inspirational, as well as setting new goals that will bring about feeling good about ourselves are lifelines to those dealing with medical brain disorders. Today, would you step out in courage, take those baby steps to implement daily exercise into your life, and remember…you are not alone. If you would like an accountability buddy, just say the word! I am rooting for you!