Exercise, it is without a question to many, a positive direction towards increasing an individual’s physical health. Being physically active regularly can increase strength, endurance, and flexibility, to name a few. Conversely though, exercise has countless benefits towards those dealing with mental issues and anxiety. That the physical effects of being active are just as important as the psychological values of exercise as well.

Healthy individuals whom exercise on a regular basis’ mood is altered after their session. In the short-term of this physical activity they become less angry, depressed, and anxious. Even experiencing an exhilarated feeling as well. Exercise in this way, is almost a ‘magic’ pill creating an up lifting experience for those who participate in, almost immediately.

In those who suffer from anxiety and depression exercise is just as beneficial psychologically to those in the healthy population. Exercise is a ‘cathartic’ – the purging of emotions. That it allows a person to have a positive outlet to release pent up anger and sadness. Exercise as well allows a person to ease their minds, it becomes almost an escape mechanism for a short period of time. It gives an opportunity for people to escape from the negative, and remember the positives.

As well working out in a pair or in small groups allows a social setting for people. A social setting in which a community can be built – a secure and safe place for a person. Many individuals like to participate in boot camps or group classes because of the people they are surrounded by. The helping hand that they provide, and the comradery.

Exercise may not be the quick fix ‘magic’ pill physically, the changes physically take time, and persistence. On the other hand it can be seen as a ‘magic’ pill in creating a momentary euphoric feeling for a person. If done on a regular basis, it can help decrease the symptoms with those who suffer from anxiety and mental illness. Not saying that it is going to take all the hurt away, but that it will be instrumental in relieving some of the pain. Therefore creating a healthier you, both physically and psychologically.

By: Nicole Wilson – NAIT PFT Student

Veale, D. M. W. (1987). Exercise and mental health. Acta psychiatrica scandinavica, 76(2), 113-120.