July 8

Exercise and Mental Health (A Torturous Path?)

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It is no secret that physical activity can have a beneficial impact on our mental health. Regular exercise gives your mental health a natural boost, helping to regulate stress, depression, and anxiety. Indeed, when you exercise, the body produces more endorphins, a hormone linked with positive feelings. Additionally, exercising also actively reduce cortisol and adrenaline level in the blood, which is the primary stress hormones.

However, as with most things, it is important to create a healthy balance to make the most of the positive impacts of physical activities. You have to be careful not to accidentally develop an unhealthy relationship with exercise and fitness.

Fitness guilt

Regular exercise implies the creation of a routine. Most people develop a fitness routine that suits their lifestyles and needs. While we understand the importance of consistency, it’s essential to draw a line when it comes to maintaining positive results for your health – both mental and physical. Exercise guilt is a frequent symptom that can develop when people feel guilty about taking time off from their routine. Exercise guilt can be highly damaging, as a person will be going to great lengths to prevent guilt feelings, even at the risk of causing self-harm. Additionally, guilt can contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression. This creates a counterproductive situation in which a person works out not for the benefits of fitness but out of fear of experiencing adverse emotions if they didn’t work out.

Fitness injury and self-care

The feel-good sensation you get from a consistent fitness routine encourages people to try new things and explore new ways of exercising. From a social perspective, fitness can help anxious and solitary individuals reach out and join groups as part of their fitness progress. The process helps regulate social anxiety and reduce isolation by supporting connections and friendship. However, as you try new workout plans, it’s easy to misjudge one’s skills. Injuries and falls are more likely to happen as people challenge themselves to push further. The fear of pain can become an obstacle to exercise. Ideally, individuals interested in progressing along their fitness journey need to learn to recognize signs of unhealthy discomfort. It is also essential not to punish the body in the event of an injury. The healing process requires rest, medical wound care products depending on the injury, patience, and a lot of self-love. Punishing the body will only encourage negative feelings.

Fitness shaming

Many individuals who start a fitness journey to improve their health also notice positive changes in their bodies. They become fitter, leaner, and change some of their lifestyle habits. More often than not, individuals who want to use fitness as a way to regain self-esteem and transform their bodies have experienced fat-shaming. Those who achieve their goals and transform their lifestyles are the first to acknowledge a change in attitudes. Many face fitness shaming comments from friends and relatives who can’t adjust to their new habits. Sometimes fitness isn’t the problem, but it is a catalyst that highlights the toxin relationships in your life.

There is no right way forward to balance fitness and mental health. While the positive influence of exercise does not need proving, it’s essential to approach a fitness lifestyle with caution. Guilt, self-punishment, and fitness shaming can affect anybody. Recognizing the signs of unhealthy, dependent, obsessive relations with fitness can ensure you develop a healthy relationship with exercise.


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