Working to improve your physical appearance is a noble goal, but a strong body
isn't much use without a healthy mind.
Fortunately, the two go hand in hand, and strengthening physical health can often
lead to a strengthened mental state as well. Exercise is often suggested as part of a
treatment plan for various types of mental illnesses, including common ones like
Even those who feel their minds are healthy already can reap the benefits of
improving their overall health. Here are five ways a healthy body leads to a healthy
1. Reducing Stress
For those in high-pressure jobs or stressful circumstances, it can be difficult to
figure out how to best cope with the stress. One of the most common solutions
is engaging in exercise. During exercise, the brain releases a chemical called
norepinephrine that helps moderate stress response. Lower stress levels can help
improve concentration, mood and more.
2. Improving Mood
This is one of the most commonly cited reasons to exercise, and it's absolutely true.
The "exercise high" many people reference comes from a release of endorphins,
creating happy feelings. These endorphins are so powerful that they can, in some
cases, be even more effective than medication at treating depression.
3. Preventing Mental Decline
After a certain age, many people start worrying about cognitive decline. While
keeping in good physical health won't cure or treat degenerative diseases like
Alzheimer's, it absolutely helps prevent the typical cognitive decline that happens
as a natural result of aging. Physical activity can help preserve the hippocampus,
the part of the brain that focuses on memory and learning. Staying healthy now can
keep the brain mentally sharp later.
4. Improving Problem Solving
If a creative solution to a problem in life is needed, exercising while working
through the issue can help. There have been studies indicating that cardiovascular
activity not only improves brain performance overall but can actually create new
brain cells and increase body proteins that help with learning, problem solving and
5. Increasing Memory
The hippocampus was mentioned earlier, but this part of the brain does more than
just prevent cognitive decline in old age. It also improves memory ability now, and
it produces more cells when the body is physically active. Studies show that adults
are able to retain more new information when participating in physical activity like
Anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle should be thinking about their mental
health as well. Lululemon founder and avid fitness buff Chip Wilson is quick to
point out that overall wellbeing comes from both the mind and body being in tip
top shape. Learning more about how the body and mind impact each other can be
motivation to turn that knowledge into positive action!
This is a guest post by Kate Hazel. Kate is a yoga and fitness enthusiast.
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