Almost every time I work out, after about 45 minutes or an hour, I head back to the locker room and think, “Wow, that felt good.” No matter how stressful the day has been, I always feel amazing after I work out. Gatorade and water will help you sustain energy, but actual scientific research from scholarly institutions such as the American Psychological Association, the National Institute of Health, and the Mayo Clinic demonstrates that exercising regularly has numerous benefits to mental health. These include boosting mood, lessening symptoms of stress and anxiety, and helping to alleviate depression.
Regular Workouts Alone May Not Be Enough
I would like to caution readers that just regular workouts alone may not be enough to control an individual’s mental health, particularly in teens or young adults with a past history of mental health issues. In this case, exercise may be added to a treatment plan, which may also include elements such as psychotherapy, psychiatry, or medication.
I was raised in a household that valued nutrition and fitness. I swam on a swim team year-round from the time I was in approximately second grade until graduating high school. Today, swimming is still my primary form of keeping fit, and I love it. I swim at least three times a week. I kind of get into this rhythm and start to meditate in the water, forgetting about everything I have to tend to for the day. If I don’t swim for a few days, I feel odd and start to miss it, but once I get back in, it’s like I never left.
Exercise Became Even More Important During a Difficult Time
Although I was taught to value physical fitness from a young age, working out regularly really became a priority in my life in the last five or so years. I was at a very low and difficult point in my life and was experiencing significant anxiety and increasing obsessive compulsive disorder-related behaviors. As a cautionary measure, I was taken to an inpatient mental health treatment center for 72 hours and later released. It is an experience I will never forget. I looked around at the other patients. They were not like me. I knew I had too much going for me to truly belong in a place like that. And I had a dog and a family who needed me. I spent about two hours in the place before deciding I was going to do all I could to get out and never come back.
If it meant I was going to be hitting the pool three times a week, so what? I did it five times a week as a kid, so three times a week shouldn’t be much of a problem, especially if science said I stood a better chance of living a happier, more fulfilled life in the water than out of it. They say water is life, and guess what? Life is good now.
Just keep swimming.
Websites that Offer Suggestions for Physical Activity
- Physical Activity for People with Disability
- How to Exercise with Limited Mobility
- Disability Exercises: Exercising for Persons with Disabilities
- Beginner exercise video for kids, adults, and people with disabilities (PART 1)
- Beginner exercise video for kids, adults, and people with disabilities (PART 2)