How Physical Activities Enhance Mental Well-being
Can Physical Health Improve Mental Health?
Physical health as a daily routine will improve their mood, energy level, and state of mind because they will be more active and productive. Thus, physical health has a great impact on people’s mental health. Health represents a combination of different factors: lifestyle, genetic predisposition, interaction with the environment, and eating habits. People must be in harmony with themselves and the surrounding world to maintain health. It is important to study this topic since illnesses appear in the case of disturbance of both physical and mental balance; thus, mental and physical health are connected. The violation of physical health principles has a strong impact on people’s psychological state and vice versa. Many studies have proved that physical exercises affect people’s mental state, as they enhance mood and energy levels and reduce stress and depression.
It is well known that physical exercises positively influence human health. Physical activity contributes to normalizing the pressure and pulse and weight loss. They are considered the first condition of people’s strength, health, and endurance. Physical exercises strengthen muscles and bones to become stronger and more resistant to injury and stress (Lordan & Pakrashi, 2014). Nevertheless, many researches established a connection between mental health and regular physical activities. Thus, scholars have concluded that physical exercises have a positive psychological impact, particularly on people who suffer from anxiety and depression (Lordan & Pakrashi, 2014). It was also proved that such exercises have a beneficial effect on the psyche. It is connected with the fact that deeper breathing and the activation of blood circulation lead to a better oxygen supply to the brain and blood.
Moreover, physical exercises increase the ability to concentrate (Lordan & Pakrashi, 2014). Moreover, they gradually relieve the nervous tension. As a result, people experience joy: all organs function normally, and there are no indispositions (Lordan & Pakrashi, 2014). This feeling of joy creates a good mood and improves the mental state of people in general.
Beta-endorphin is The hormone responsible for a good mood and well-being. It was found that after running, a level of beta-endorphin in the blood increases considerably; for example, after 10 minutes of running, it increases by about 40% and after 20 minutes – by 110% (Ekkekakis, 2013). Scientists assume that prolonged physical activity, aimed at developing endurance, raises a level of beta-endorphin more than the short-term one (Ekkekakis, 2013). This hormone has a positive, euphoric effect as it helps acquire peace of mind and eliminate depression.
In addition to beta-endorphin, an increase in serotonin and cortisol also has a positive effect on people’s mental state. Numerous studies concerning serotonin hypothesized that a positive effect of certain antidepressants is achieved precisely due to the increase in its level (Ekkekakis, 2013). In some research, this hypothesis was confirmed: thus, the serotonin level increases after physical exertion. Scientists also try to explain the beneficial effect of physical exercises manifested in the decrease in cortisol or, in other words, a hormone responsible for stress levels (Ekkekakis, 2013). In stressful situations, the adrenal glands secrete many hormones, destructively affecting the body. Nonetheless, scientists established that it is possible to avoid negative influences with the help of physical activity, during which the hormone is transformed into energy for muscles (Ekkekakis, 2013). It leads to the improvement of the mental state of people.
However, it is impossible to state that sport is a panacea for all diseases. Physical exercises provide an opportunity to remain vigorous and healthy for all people. In one of the first researches into the effect of exercises on depression, middle-aged men who participated in different 6-week physical training programs, including swimming, jogging, and cycling, were compared with a group of men who led a sedentary lifestyle for six weeks (Ekkekakis, 2013). In contrast to the representatives of the control group, men of the first group significantly increased the level of their physical preparedness. Besides, in 11 men who experienced depression before the beginning of the research, this state gradually decreased after physical training (Ekkekakis, 2013). These results were consistent with the results of other studies, where it was found that physical exercises reduce depression in people with clinical signs of depression.
In the other study, people who suffered from depression were arbitrarily divided into three groups. People from the first group were engaged in running, people from the second group underwent psychotherapy for a limited period, and people from the last group had no time restriction (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). The first control group met with the doctor who used jogging as a remedy thrice a week for 45 minutes. Men of the other two groups also visited the doctor and had sessions for 10 minutes. When ten weeks passed, people in the first group demonstrated a considerable reduction in the level of depression in comparison to the representatives of other groups (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). Exercise improves physical health and positively impacts people’s psyche, particularly depression (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). In such a way, physical exercises are regarded as the best natural tranquilizer and are more efficient than medicines. If people want to be healthy and in a good mood, it is important to always remember the benefits of various sports activities.
The improvement of the psychological state is also associated with the distraction from different stressors combined with physical exertion. For example, in one experiment, people were divided into three groups according to the nature of their activity (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). The respondents of the first group performed physical exercises. People from the second group were engaged in meditation, while people from the third group applied a method of abstraction. The results of the experiment demonstrated that all people from these three groups showed a decrease in the level of anxiety immediately after the end of the activity (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). It allows us to conclude that physical exercises have the same spectrum of activities as meditation.
Another research was conducted in 2001 by American scientists (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). They found a positive effect of physical activities on mental processes and people’s states that are represented in an increase or decrease of various factors (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). For example, it demonstrated that people with physical activity experienced increased self-control, mental activity, self-confidence, and better performance. In addition, memory is improved, and the level of hostility, absenteeism, anger, and embarrassment is reduced (Clow & Edmunds, 2014). It was also proved that people have fewer headaches and phobias because of physical training. Thus, regular exercise has many positive influences on people.
The relation between exercising and mental abilities was also studied. However, conflicting data were obtained according to numerous researches. Therefore, some researchers argue that physical exercises have a positive effect on cognitive capabilities and, thus, increase them both during and after the exercises (Cuellar, 2015). Despite this, some scientists have noted only a negative effect on cognitive processes or the absence of any influence. In the majority of experiments, one pattern was observed. It consists of the fact that short-term but intense physical activity leads to increased mental processes directly affecting the central nervous system (Cuellar, 2015). Nevertheless, it is known that muscle fatigue occurs with prolonged exertion, as a result of which a positive influence ceases.
People around the world are engaged in physical exercises. However, when it comes to illnesses, many prefer medications and forget that physical education can help with the treatment. People try to enhance their immune systems with various drugs. They want to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety with the help of medical means, neglecting the positive impact of sports activity on their physical and mental health. However, some people prefer physical exercise and a well-balanced diet to drugs. For example, people from the United Arab Emirates prefer physical education over drugs. It results in the fact that residents of this state are considered to be one of the healthiest nations in the world. In such a way, numerous researches indicate that physical health improves people’s mental health.
In conclusion, when people care about their physical health, mood, energy, and mind, they will feel much more productive and active. Many types of research demonstrated that physical exercise protects against risk factors and associated diseases of civilization, including smoking, overweight, and other harmful factors. Consequently, a great number of studies have proved that physical exercises have a positive impact on mental health. It was found that average sports activity helps reduce depression and anxiety, improve self-esteem, and minimize the effect of stress. In such a way, physical health can significantly influence mental health, which implies a strong correlation between the two.
1. Clow, A., & Edmunds, S. (2014). Physical activity and mental health. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
2. Cuellar, A. (2015). Preventing and treating child mental health problems. The Future of Children, 25(1), 111-134.
3. Ekkekakis, P. (2013). Routledge handbook of physical activity and mental health. New York, NY: Routledge.
4. Lordan, G., & Pakrashi, D. (2014). Make time for physical activity, or you may spend more time sick! Social Indicators Research, 119(3), 1379-1391.