Mental Health and Exercise

By Shelby Nolan

Elle Woods isn’t wrong (basically ever). Exercise does more for your mental health than you may realize.

Now, maybe you’re thinking mental health is just about not being sad or, in Elle Woods’s law case, not shooting your spouse, but mental health is much more than any diagnosis or awful event. Mental health is lower stress, less brain fog, higher self-esteem, better mood, and more confidence. Exercise improves sleep, which means less fatigue and more energy during the day. All those things, like being tired, busy, and stressed, that may hold you back from exercising can be improved by making fitness a priority!

What could you gain from exercise?  The confidence to bend and snap your way into love? The self-esteem to realize you’re better than a toxic relationship? The energy to study and move up in your career? Just a bigger appreciation for your bomb-as-heck self? A squad of powerful women beside you, cheering you on? Check out MJ Fit for all of the above, plus more.

I’m a CPT and a graduate student in a counseling program, so your mental health and physical health needs are paramount. I want you all to feel as confident and powerful as Elle and her friends did in this beauty salon! 

Now, if you are interested in the big effects on depression and other diagnoses, in a meta-analysis (basically a research study that looks at a whole bunch of other studies at one time) in 2006 they found:

  • In depressed individuals, those who exercised were more likely than those who just took medication to reach full or partial recovery
  • Those who exercised and were being treated for alcohol abuse were more likely to abstain from alcohol than those who just did the traditional treatment
  • Those with eating disorders were less likely to desire thinness or engage in binge and purge cycles and more likely to gain more weight and stay on the path to recovery than those who did the traditional behavioral therapy
  • Exercise was as effective as a medication for treating anxiety
  • High intensity, progressive resistance training was more effective than lower intensity in the treatment of depression (LIFT HEAVY, Y’ALL)

For more research check out these articles:

Stathopoulou, G., Powers, M. B., Berry, A., Smits, J. A. J., & Otto, M. (2006). Exercise Interventions for mental health: A quantitative and qualitative review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 13(2), 179-193. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x