Exercise is good for one’s physical health. It makes us stronger and improves our physique. But very few people know that exercise and leading an active lifestyle have a direct and positive impact on our overall mental health. Even minimal exercise can make a difference to our moods. It relieves stress, helps us sleep better, and improves memory. The same goes for the food that we consume. Eating a healthy and balanced diet can improve our mental health.
In fact, many psychologists and psychiatrists would suggest physical activity and a healthy diet as a treatment plan for those with eating disorders. According to Family Doctor, your food choices can affect your mental health, so it is important to keep a balanced diet composed of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grain, limited amounts of sodium and added sugar, and lean protein such as chicken meat.
Have you ever felt cranky because you skipped breakfast or you didn’t have your regular cup of joe? Have you snapped at other people because you only had a cracker for lunch? If you are on a diet and cutting down on the amount of food you normally take, have you ever felt lonely because you couldn’t eat what you want?
Researchers believe that there is a strong connection between your mood and the food you take. Joe Hibbeln from the National Institutes of Health says that omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, can improve and regulate your mood by helping protect neurons against damage that chronic stress can cause. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish.
Even canned tuna and sardines contain high traces of omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your mental health. Thus, you don’t always have to shell out hundreds of dollars just to get fresh tuna from the market. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed and chia seeds. Pumpkin seeds, eggs, kale, and other green leafy vegetables are also good sources of vitamin B, protein, magnesium, and zinc—all of which can help improve your mood and fight off viral diseases by improving your immune system.
Want dessert? Dark chocolates can affect your mood positively and help people think more clearly. They help fight away depression, prevents inflammation, and improves memory and focus, which is why some students munch on dark chocolates during their exam week.
Active Lifestyles as Antidepressants
A short run or walk around the park can cause your body to release chemicals known as endorphins, which can trigger a positive feeling in the body. Endorphins are considered feel-good hormones. Together with oxytocin, these are the hormones that our body releases when we fall in love. Your body’s chemistry alone tells you that exercise is good for your overall well-being.
The fact that exercise improves the quality of your sleep is one of the reasons why it’s good for those suffering from eating disorders and depression to do even a 30-minute round on the treadmill. With good sleep, your mood will improve.
High-intensity workouts tend to have more mental benefits. Low-level of exercise can also be effective, although it can vary depending on gender and the mental history of a person.
A combination of exercise and a healthy diet will improve your mood. This will not only improve your relationship with yourself and the people around you, but it will also make you more productive in the workplace. It will allow you to develop a more stable and grounded environment.