Last Updated on May 1, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
Fitness doesn’t just help you lose weight or sculpt your body to define muscles. It can also impact your mental health. The brain is like any other organ in your body and requires proper nutrition as well as exercise in order to remain fully functional. This can alter the way you think, remember past events and your emotional states. By being more fit, you could experience a greatly sense of self while making various tasks throughout the day much easier.
How Fitness Affects the Way You Think
The shape of your body is only a part of what proper fitness can do for you. The stability of your mind is also an important piece to consider. I know I have seen a vast difference in my behaviors, mannerisms and moods by putting more effort into exercising and eating right. Here are seven ways your mental health can be impacted through fitness.
The most obvious way exercise and dieting affects your mind is by boosting your self-esteem. When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Not a lot of people do. In fact, there are times I would get very depressed because of how much weight I gained. By losing the weight, I have begun to change my appearance in the mirror. By practicing better eating habits, my mind is also getting the nutrients it needs to elevate my moods. Both of these in tandem greatly affect how I look at myself – as I am sure they would for you as well.
2. Rational Thought
I know a lot of people, both skinny and fat, who have severe problems with rationality. In most cases, these problems can be curbed through a proper diet. For me, it’s when my blood-sugar levels go too low – as with a lot of diabetics. In fact, your brain has a much more difficult time making decisions when it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs. Proper eating and increased physical activity to get oxygen to the brain has potential to improve how you process rational thought.
3. Boosting Memory
Exercise and proper eating habits have been found to boost your memory. Whether you’re creating new ones or trying to retrieve events from several years ago, clearing the debris from your mind can be greatly beneficial. Foods such as berries have been found to help in this process while exercise gets more blood flowing to the brain for processing information. Some studies even provide evidence that fitness can play a role in preventing and managing diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
4. Treating Mental Disease Symptoms
Did you know that allergic reactions to certain foods can simulate Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? I’ve read cases where children had been allergic to tuna or the gluten within bread and began showing signs of ADHD. Although this isn’t always the case with the disorder, it does demonstrate how food allergies can contribute to mental health. There is a great deal of research showing how antioxidants reduce the risks for Alzheimer’s disease. What you put into your body has potential to affect the mind as well as your gut.
5. Reducing Stress
Exercise and diet can play a role in managing your stress levels. For example, there are plenty of healthy foods that have been found to reduce your stress. Thanks to the natural affect of endorphin, exercise can also play a part in lowering levels of anxiety. This can directly affect everything from the way you handle problems in your day to regulating your blood pressure. Stress can be ultra-damaging to the body over long periods of time and can even contribute to putting on a few extra pounds thanks to the hormone cortisol.
6. Better Rest at Night
A lack of sleep can be very damaging to the human body. From increasing levels of heart-related problems to reducing your ability to think straight, sleep deprivation may be more dangerous than you think. Fitness and eating healthy can help you get a full night’s rest, especially since many people who are obese like myself suffer from sleep apnea. I don’t have a CPAP machine yet, but I have awoke in the middle of the night by suffocating. Essentially, my body stops breathing for long periods of time if I lay on my back.
Although confidence and self-esteem can go hand-in-hand at times, it’s possible to have a level of one without the other. For instance, I have a somewhat low self-esteem but feel very confident when it comes to my work. Proper fitness can help increase the level of confidence you have in yourself. Between the brain receiving more nutrients and the boost that comes with achieving exercise goals, you can start to feel better about yourself while having the confidence to succeed in almost everything you do.
Examples of How Mental Health Affects Your Day
Now that I’ve touched base with a handful of ways fitness will impact your mental state, let’s look a bit at how these can affect your day. Remember, even skinny people can be affected by improper mental health. You can be under 160 pounds and still have poor eating and exercising practices.
This is one of my favorite points to bring up. Your career can be directly affected by your mental health. Without the ability to think rationally or put thought into specific decisions, you could be quite inadequate at your job. This can then cause problems with getting raises, advancements or even respect among peers.
It can be very difficult to muster up enough motivation to face the day when your mind just isn’t into it. Everything from house chores to your job can suffer when you’re mind is foggy. Proper exercise and healthier eating can increase levels of motivation as well as delivering the energy to take control of the day.
Speaking from experience, clouded judgement from a lack of proper nutrition can easily affect social interactions. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to snap at someone for the most minor of causes based purely on low blood-sugar levels. Decisions regarding people, behavior and more can make you seem more like an ass than your true nature. There have been times when I’ve had to reel myself in when the kids take things too far. Unfortunately, not all parents can do this – which can damage your relationship with the family.
Although some emotional scars will be difficult to deal with, fitness can still contribute to proper mental health. Pride, confidence and an improved view of yourself can do wonders to enhance your life. Through healthy eating and exercise, you can deal with a wide range of what life throws at you with a clear mind. Put more care into your eating habits and give your brain what it needs to help you adjust to things in your life. It all begins with a healthier perspective of yourself and your own potential.