Exercising is usually the go-to way to maintain a good body shape. There are many benefits to exercising, even when it’s just 20 minutes a day. In our society, we tend to view exercise solely as a means to lose weight, get fit, or look a certain way.
When people exercise a lot, they automatically assume their bodies will look good. People also think that if weight fluctuates and a person gains a few pounds, they are not doing enough. However, exercise is so much more than just losing or gaining weight.
Why exercising for 20 minutes is essential?
A tough reality we often don’t think about is that our muscles depend on exercise for survival. After 36, our muscles and organs start atrophying at a faster rate.
As our bodies face more ailments, it is even more important to strengthen them intentionally so we can push through when things get tough. Heart-related diseases are the most common cause of death, yet we don’t think of the heart like its muscle.
The link between exercise and mental health is complicated. For example, inactivity can be a cause and a consequence of mental illness. But there are lots of ways that exercise can benefit your mental health. Let’s explore them one by one.
1) Slows physical degeneration
Studies have continuously linked exercise with improved brain health later in life. Research shows that relatively modest amounts of activity like walking can make a positive difference.
In one study, older people who walked for just 40 minutes three days a week took two years off the “age” of their hippocampus and improved their memory function. The hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and an increased risk for dementia. However, just like with your muscles, exercise can slow or even reverse the physical decay of your brain.
2) Improves cognitive functions
Exercising is key in managing our mental health. Exercise pumps blood to the brain, which can help you to think more clearly. It increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
It also increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injuries and diseases.
3) Enhances emotional wellbeing
Research shows that regular exercise can enhance mental health, emotional well-being, and lower rates of mental illness. Exercising on a regular basis seems to reduce the risk of developing mental illness.
It also seems to help treat some mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety. For example, for mild-moderate depression, research suggests physical activity can be as effective as antidepressants or psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy.
4) Helps manage severe disorders
Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Exercising is especially important in patients with schizophrenia since these patients are already vulnerable to obesity and also because of the additional risk of weight gain associated with antipsychotic treatment.
Patients with schizophrenia who participated in a 3-month physical conditioning program showed improved weight control and reported increased fitness levels, exercise tolerance, reduced blood pressure levels, increased energy levels, and upper body and hand grip strength.
Exercising for 20 minutes, such as brisk walking three days a week, is sufficient for these health benefits. Moreover, these 20 minutes need not be continuous, two 10-minute walks are believed to be as useful as one 20-minute walk.
5) Exercising reduces anger
A crucial component of mental wellness and health is emotion. When the most challenging emotions aren’t controlled in a healthy way, they might lead to actions that might be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Anger is a typical reaction to stressful circumstances. It demands a release that doesn’t harm you or others and shouldn’t be disregarded.
Physical activity and regular exercise have been demonstrated to reduce baseline levels of anger instead of repressing it. In a 2019 study, nurses discovered that engaging in physical activity helped them regulate their anger and reduce their overall levels of rage.
You do you, even if none of those give you the endorphin rush you’re used to. But realize that what you’re chasing is any movement performed as part of a routine. Additionally, it’s fantastic if you want to challenge yourself and work out more intensely and have the means to do so.
Whatever you choose, remember that while exercise has endless physical benefits, the true unsung hero is the mental release and associated advantages.