Moving in a new rhythm: Exercise and Mental Health
The fast-paced life of work deadlines, the demands of child-rearing, that relationship that is weighing on us, it all adds up. It can leave us craving peace and quiet. Eventually our mental health suffers, spiralling us into anxiety or depression or leaving us feeling irritable and inattentive. We crave something different; we crave a different rhythm.
Exercise is the alchemy that transforms our life into new rhythms. The world’s stresses can be melted away as the earth resonates beneath our feet, our tendons and sinews stress under the increasing cadence of our gait, and as our heart’s contractions increase meeting the demands of more blood flow to the muscles. This is the near perfect medicine to smooth out the staccato of our days.
Exercise molds us into better versions of ourselves. It demands discipline, the root of all good qualities. Discipline is the way we tell ourselves we’re worth it. It’s the way we teach ourselves self-confidence through a commitment to our goals. It is the reason that we get up at 5am to start the day with purpose. It’s a compass to greatness, revealing that we are physically and mentally more capable than we imagined. Once we make friends with discipline, we are exercising with consistency. Why not also get enough sleep, stay hydrated and eat well to fuel our bodies?
“The discipline can seem like it’s your worst enemy… but in reality, it’s your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.”
– Jocko Willink
Exercise makes more mitochondria, which means more energy.
Exercise improves circulation, which allows better mental clarity.
Exercise improves our hormonal health, which means better libido and intimate relationships.
Exercise dissipates cortisol, which makes us more calm, capable, and resilient.
Exercise helps us sleep at night, which allows us to be better at everything.
Exercise helps us meet like-minded people, which creates supportive social networks.
Exercise makes us feel purposeful.
Being purposeful improves mental health.
As both a Naturopathic Doctor and an endurance athlete, I have come to realize that exercise alone is the single greatest tool for mental health. Sometimes we need biochemical support alongside, other times it is the single passenger vehicle that allows us to withdraw from pharmaceutical medications, either way, exercise is mental health’s best friend.
So delve in, find what type of exercise fuels you or try them all until you find the right one.
Start moving to a new rhythm. Stay committed. And let the magic begin.