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Exercise & Fitness
How simply moving benefits your mental health
- By Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
If an anxious person with a high heart rate starts to run/exercise, would exercise increase their heart rate because it is already at a high level? Or would it decrease/stay the same because of exercise’s ability to calm stress/nerves?
This was a great article to read! It provided me with lots of information for my school project! I feel that I now understand how the mind and body are better connected through physical activity.
My brother recommended I may like this web site. He was once totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not consider just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!
what about Pilates? Pilates has many practical applications but at the core of it all is a series of controlled movements that restore the quiet body/mind connection. As a Pilates teacher and practitioner for over 16 years I see the positive and encouraging changes in my clients on daily basis.
Agree absolutely and keep up this great work , RK
Very well written. Easy to understand and follow.
Later on, please write about seizures in old age – forgetting, losing one’s surroundings, momentarlily losing oneself, reduced cognitive function, etc.
Hi Dr. Pillay,
Thank you for a great article. I am interested in any suggestions for chronic headaches. I walk regularly and I find that very helpful with acute pain, as walking relaxes my neck and shoulders possibly. But I am not able to find something to prevent chronic headaches even after working with a good neurologist for a few years. I am open to trying anything at this point and would be interested in the meditative type exercises that you have touched upon in this article. I think many of us are unable to deeply relax, and the discipline to practice traditional meditation in this busy lifestyle almost seems impossible to me. Some form of gentle repetitive movement type meditative exercise that relaxes and calms our brains may work for someone like me than sitting quietly with my eyes closed 🙂
What is your take on this….
Nice to see that the well-done research supports anecdotal evidence for the value of movement for mental health. As a devotee of Zumba! dance, I have no doubt that this is true.
Now a days Health is a very essential role in life and different types of exercise differ by the duration and intensity of muscular contractions involved, as well as by how energy is generated within the muscle.
I EXERCISE 3 TIMES A WEEK AND I DO AEROBIC EXERCISES REGULARLY PLUS IDO ALOT WALKING ASWELL AS MEDITATING.
Golf &. Yoga always bring oxygen to my brain and make me feel better
The more I keep up with golf & yoga
The less I eat
And therefore the better I feel
There is a direct connection between mind & body
They challenge each other & create energy through their interaction
& support our natural circle of life
Noelle—we really couldn’t have too many reminders of the mind-body connection. Thanks for your comment. “Unfocusing” from your daily routines is also a powerful way to recharge your brain. Glad that you’re implementing this in your life.
Hi. I’ve noticed over the years that when I jog, I’m very positive, confident and have a can-do attitude. A few days after I stop, depressive thoughts come in, tasks become burdensome and participating in family activities seems like climbing Mt Everest. Thanks for opening my eyes.
Thanks for sharing your positive experience with jogging, Sammy. One lesson my personal trainer taught me is that your movement should only be limited by your imagination. Pain or mood, when obstructive, should be addressed to allow you to move.
Yes, regularity is very important. Pretty soon the exercise itself becomes the reward.
When I first started my morning exercises, looking forward to my coffee was the reward – now I don’t want my coffee until I exercise because it makes me feel fresh and new ideas come for my writing.
Hello i am Cesar Cardenas and i reading the article related with how moving benefit the mental health,really I have interst to learn more abouted.
There’s so much out there Cesar. Here’s a study that shows that exercise can stop your bring from shrinking! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2016-02-11-exercise-in-middle-age-stops-your-brain-shrinking/
Dear’s Health Harvard.
Thanks for your published on different tips related health advices. And hope to see more information relating citica ” back pain ”
This is a great article with plenty of good research. I had a craniotomy to remove a colloid cyst a little over a year ago and have found that exercise often has the reverse effect on my mood. Runs and work outs can leave me feeling anxious, depressed and generally scattered. I still do it because I value the physical benefits but I wonder why my brain is reacting to exercise this way, when I’ve been a regular exerciser for more than 30 years…
Since you have been exercising regularly for 30 years, your body has become strong and you must understand the strong effect on the mood due to the surgery and how bad it could be if not for the regular exercise you have done for the past 30 years! Keep it up!
Bernard—It’s always best to discuss this with your PCP and surgeon. There are some studies that show that for certain CNS diseases in animals, exercise may not be beneficial (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2998194/) . In humans, exercise has been shown to exacerbate some inflammatory conditions (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24231601). Also, overtraining or high volume exercise can be detrimental to mood (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192422). That said, for every individual, this is different. This is a great question to ask your current doctor so that you can weigh the risks and benefits moving forward.
More proof of the power of movement in our lives! Great info here.
Excellent information with references as to how the organic body associates with functioning Mind. Healthy Body relates to healthy Mind more frequently than unhealthy Body association to unhealthy Mind.
Your articles are inspiring and than you. Sandra M. Boletchek
Thank you for reading and for your comment. If you have any requests for other topics, please feel free to request.
Very interesting and usefull. I’ll put them in practice.
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