Research Shows Movement Supports Mental Health

Movement and mental health

Most everyone knows that movement is good for physical health. But did you realize that movement also increases natural chemicals that play key roles in healthy brain functioning?

From endorphins and serotonin to dopamine, glutamate and GABA, regular daily movement increases these chemicals, which are critical to mental health in a wide variety of important ways.

They help reduce the negative effects of stress and pain, regulate appetite, sleep and mood, and lower the risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.

In addition to helping prevent the development of some mental illnesses, research shows that exercise can be an important part of treatment. One study from the Netherlands found that just one hour of exercise is related to lower levels of mood, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. Another study found that among people in the U.S., those who regularly exercise are less likely to have depression, panic disorder and phobias.

Clearly, mental health challenges are complicated and unique for each individual. Ergotron recognizes that treating serious mental illness takes proven therapies and support from qualified medical professionals. However, research supports the fact that simply moving more can help support those strategies.

For example, we often recommend that people move throughout the day with the use of a sit-stand workstation. Taking short break walks with colleagues is another great thing to do for your physical and mental health. Need another reason to get in step with others? Research shows that moving alongside someone else improves self-esteem!

Keeping active should be an ongoing part of your daily life, not something you reserve simply for gym visits after work. In fact, the negative effects of sitting all day cannot be overcome by periodic workouts. One study showed that if people sat for most of the work day—even if they were physically active outside of work—they showed relatively higher rates of anxiety and depression than workers who sat for less than three hours per day.

“Your mind and your body are intimately connected,” says Harvard Health blogger Srini Pillay, MD. “And while your brain is the master control system for your body’s movement, the way you move can also affect the way you think and feel.”

The bottom line?

Daily physical activity, like standing and walking, has a positive impact on overall well-being. So keep moving for your physical and mental health and turn to qualified medical professionals and resources in your community when faced with mental health challenges. The right support will pave the way for both a healthy mind and body.