Exercise, Physical Activity and Mental Health

Exercise and physical activity play a crucial role in both maintaining one’s mental health condition and in recovering from a mental illness. Breaking research indicates that exercise actually produces a chemical that stimulates the growth of brain cells, thus allowing for recovery from sever substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, physical activity and mental health recovery coincide in fostering a social network and encouraging self-reflection, both of which are crucial on the path to mental health recovery.

The human mind evolved in an environment which required it to travel over twelve miles daily. And no, that drive to work in the morning does not count…but that would make things easier, no? This evolution was due to survival instincts when humans migrated from the jungles into the flatlands. Humans also developed an adrenaline reaction which both encouraged movement and triggered immediate learning reactions; as Doctor Carl Clark from the Mental Health Center of Denver once stated, when early man saw that saber-tooth tiger charging out of the brambles, the neurons must have been firing pretty fast to teach them to stay away from the bushes next time…that is assuming their get away was fast enough to allow for a next time!

This adrenaline rush encouraging learning has become neutralized by the flow of activities in modern western societies, wherein the normal individual is seemingly on a constant, albeit generally unnoticed, adrenaline rush. Consequently, stress levels have continuously been on the rise, consequently decreasing the rate at which an individual learns when in a compromising situation, thus decreasing mental wellness levels.

Physical activity is a huge aid to mental health in the fact that exercise allows for a stress outlet, thus decreasing day-to-day stress, while creating functional adrenaline for the mind. In reality, physical activity is important for mental health due to its role in creating Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which is a key factor in the creation of brain cells. The myth of the old days is past; you know the one, where once your brain cells are gone they are gone. Well such is not the case, physical activity and exercise can increase BDNF levels and allow the re-growth of brain cells, consequently making physical activity immensely important for mental illness recovery.

Exercise and mental health further coincide in regards to the alarming statistic that people with mental illnesses, on average, die 20 years sooner than mentally healthy individuals. While there are many factors that go into this involved in substance abuse risk factors, two considerations that one would be remiss to ignore is the fact that those suffering from mental illnesses have a tendency to stagnate and become physically inactive. This has resulted in a large percentage of mental health consumers being considered overweight, which can ultimately result in adult onset diabetes. Diabetes is very dangerous in sedentary individuals who, in a depressant state, care little about taking care of themselves, for such a medical ailment can result in numerous health related issues, some of which can be very serious.

Physical activity and mental illness recovery are highly correlated. In some of the most successful recovery-based treatment facilities one will find strong proponents of mental health consumers engaging in physical activity. These activities also subsidize the development and formation of a support network populated by individuals interested in similar hobbies. Furthermore, exercise can often be a form of active meditation, and as practitioners of Dialectic Behavioral Treatment (DBT) can profess, meditation, including meditation absent any religious connotations (whether it be active or seated), drives self-reflection which is crucial to mental health recovery; for more information on the importance of self-reflection, you can access my article on Spirituality and Hope in Mental Health.

Stay physically active, exercise and mental wellness are highly correlated. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent the development of serious mental illnesses, and is also one of the most effective treatment plans. Stay active, stay healthy, stay happy.

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Importance of Mental Health Among Youth

Mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness, but it also the ability to cope with the challenges in life. Mental health is as important as physical health to everybody. Youths usually experiment with attitudes, appearances, and behaviors. Most of their experiments are harmless, but some experiments may have terrible results. Children and youths experience mental health problem such as stress, anxiety, harassment, family problems, depression, learning disability, etc. Serious mental health problems, such as self-injurious behaviors and suicide, are increasing among youth.
A good mental health is essential for leading a good life. Youth cannot succeed in academic and personal life effectively if they are struggling with a mental health problem, such as depression or unsteady feeling due to academic, social or family pressures.

Failure to detect youth’s mental health problem may result in negative consequences such as increased risk for academic failure, social isolation, unsafe sexual behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempt, unemployment, and poor health. A recent report says, The rising rates of mental and emotional problems among U.S. children and youngsters signal a crisis for the country.

Depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, suicidal thinking, and other serious psychological problems are striking more and more children and youths. Conservative estimates say one in every ten children and adolescents now suffers from mental illness severe enough to cause impairment.” Even if detected earlier, unfortunately many children and youth do not receive the help they need. Some reports are there that most children and youth who need a mental health evaluation do not receive services and that the rates of use of mental health services are also low.
Parents and adults must take care of the youth’s mental health. The parents and adults must talk with the youth, be a good role models to them, advice them to choose good friends, and monitor their activities.

There is a growing and unmet need for mental health services for children and youth. Mental health services are important for student’s and youth’s success. Prevention programs help in early identification of mental health problems in youth. These programs provide education on mental health issues, violence prevention, social skills training, harassment prevention, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, and screening for emotional and behavioral problems. The Family Guide Web sites are designed for parents and other adults to emphasize the importance of family, promote mental health, and help prevent underage use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

Good mental health is very important for youth’s success. In order to emphasize the importance of mental health in youth, the following steps can be taken: Create awareness of child and youth mental health issues; provide a comprehensive guide for effective and meaningful youth meetings for organizations and professionals; and Conduct programs to generate awareness about youth’s mental health in each communities. Awareness about the importance of mental health issues among youth equally important to other physical issues, such as heart disease, AIDS, cancer, etc. Local and state health officials must draw more attention to the importance of mental health treatment of affected children and youths.

Attention to youth’s mental health will more effectively improve their life standard. This also positively impacts their academic and personal life achievements. The families, society and youths benefit only when mental health problems in youths are identified and prevented earlier.

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