Sport: A natural anti-depressant

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    Everyone knows the benefits of regular physical activity for cardio-vascular health. But do you know about the benefits of sport for mental health?

    At a time when stress, anxiety and depression are considered the evils of modern society, scientific expertise continues to reveal the potential of physical activity as a tool to relieve, treat or prevent these mental health problems.

    Physical activity increases resistance to stress
    Because a form of stress is a component of physical activity, regular participation in sport increases resistance to other types of stress such as emotional stress. In effect, physical activity prompts the same symptoms as anxiety: increased heart rate, perspiration, difficulty in breathing. As a result, sport helps our bodies and minds to familiarize themselves with these sensations and to control them within the context of psychological stress.

    Physical activity promotes self-confidence
    When you learn a new skill, your self-confidence gets a boost. Learning to perform exercises correctly also helps to increase self-confidence. Positive self-confidence is associated with mental well-being while a lack of confidence is associated with mental illness.

    Physical exercise acts as an anti-depressant
    Physical activity has an impact on the brain’s neurochemistry: it produces serotonin and dopamine which are also known as the “well-being hormones”.

    Physical activity impacts the structure and functioning of the brain
    Physical activity stimulates the development of brain cells, protects the brain from damage and strengthens brain functioning by promoting the development of new blood vessels which support new nerve cells. Numerous studies have shown that practising sport regularly increases our cerebral capacity, notably in strengthening memory and powers of concentration.

    Physical activity improves physiological health
    Physical activity reduces the peripheral risk factors of poor mental health, such as inflammation, diabetes, hypertension and cardio-vascular problems – by promoting blood circulation and hence the distribution of nutrients and energy.

    Studies show that 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week is enough to provide beneficial effects on mental health.

    Take care to perform a form of exercise which is suitable for your problems, whether that’s anxiety, stress or nervous depression. Fitness professionals will help you take part in the ideal physical activity for you, to ensure your optimal physical and mental health.

    Don’t hesitate to contact our Personal Trainers and Well-being Advisors for good advice and training programmes.

    Happy training!

    Monica Schettino is Well-being Manager at Aspria