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Effects of Exercise On Mental Health | Benefits Of Regular Exercise

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Effects of Exercise On Mental Health | Benefits Of Regular Exercise

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Effects of exercise on mental health and the various mechanisms involved in the exercise, and how they may play a part in the association with mental health outcomes will be elaborated on by this article.

Effects of Exercise On Mental Health


Physical fitness has long been associated with higher self-esteem, and those with stronger self-esteem are less likely to succumb to depressive symptoms.

And briefly, the immune system plays a vital part in many mood disorders.  The positive effects of exercise may well be due to the ability to reduce inflammation in the body.

The effect of physical activity on mental health

Exercise effects on mental health

We’re specifically going to be discussing more depression anxiety.  But of course, this will also apply to other mood-related disorders.  We will be discussing the physiological and psychological processes in more detail.

Before generally going onto the first pathway so the first psychological mechanism is the endorphin hypothesis.  The principal function of endorphins is to allow us to experience pain.

During prolonged pain or distress, numerous athletes often feel experiences of euphoria or sedation, following intense training sessions.  These feelings of well-being are often known as run as high.

For example, research shows that addicted runners who withdrew from running for two weeks, experienced an increased correlation in endorphin levels when they resumed running the administration of naloxone.

An endorphin antagonist can prevent opiate receptor activity associated with mood changes.  However, it's hard to really determine the significance of results in research.  As evidence supporting the Endorphins hypothesis that might not reflect the levels in the central nervous system.

However, testing this is highly invasive and therefore would affect mood changes in general.  There's also a relationship between Cannabinoid receptors and exercise endorphins.

The Endocannabinoid system has a positive association with depression where increased activity in this region decreases depression levels.

One research study found that high-intensity exercise in 11 individuals markedly increased endocannabinoids subjective feelings of well-being have also more recently been examined in mice via a running wheel.

They found that their endocannabinoid levels significantly increased and anxiety and sensations of pain decreased.

Therefore run as high may be associated with endocannabinoid receptors which are then reflected in mental health outcomes such as depression levels, secondly the thermogenic hypothesis.

This states that increasing body temperature is responsible for increased mood elevation after exercise leading to a reduction in anxiety-related symptoms.

An increase in temperature in certain brain regions may be the main contributing factor to decreased muscle tension and feelings of overall relaxation.

However, this remains largely unsupported the relationship between body temperature and anxiety was studied in one piece of research.  They looked at three different states of temperature normal cooler than normal and warmer than normal.

All three temperatures resulted in reduced anxiety and there was not enough variance between the three temperatures in order to create an association when body temperature has been manipulated experimentally.  There have been associations seen between anxiety and body temperature.

However many other studies have found no supportive significant correlations when looking at increased body temperature after acute exercise.

Another theory is the mitochondrial function of mitochondria in the cell increasing signaling between neural circuits in the brain current theories of depression and mood disorders center around brain neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

This is the ability to create new neurons in the brain being able to do, this means that you're more likely to create new types of thought processes rather than sticking to the same rigid negative thought processes.

It also means that if you have increased circuits you're more likely to be able to adapt to different environments.  Poor mental health may stem from poor neuroplasticity resulting in the inability to adapt to stressful or aversive.

Stimuli Mitochondria play an integral role in neuroplasticity as a gray matter of the brain has a high number of mitochondria and undergoes intense neuronal activity.

Chronic stress can lead to functional impairments in different parts of the brain, but neuroplasticity may block or reverse this process.

Biogenesis in mitochondria transpires at a higher rate during the development of neurons targeting mitochondrial dysfunction or enhancing function via exercise may provide a novel treatment for depression and other mental health disorders.

Now the mTOR mammalian target Tropomyosin is a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body by adding chemicals called phosphates to proteins.

The mTOR plays an important role in development and aging and is associated with learning memory and antidepressant effects.

The drug ketamine that has been seen to be used as a novel treatment for depression acts by enhancing the signaling in the mTOR.  And therefore harnessing this antidepressant effect in many of the same ways.

Exercise motivates the mTOR in brain regions that deal with cognitive and emotional behaviors and can help improve mental states such as reducing anxiety.

mTOR mediates the signaling in skeletal muscles, after exercise both voluntary and forced exercise increases mTOR positive neurons in the brain in areas such as the amygdala involved in fear processing hippocampus involved in learning and memory, and other areas like the prefrontal cortex and hypothalamus.

Therefore there's a role of mTOR signaling cognitive function and exercise.  Briefly, Neurotransmitters such as serotonin which is seen as the happy hormone and are often implicated to be significantly reduced in individuals with depression and anxiety.

One research study that compared two groups the aerobic exercise group or the stretch and control group found increased levels of serotonin in the exercise group also correlating with decreased depression levels.

Lastly, for biology, the HBA axis is seen to be stimulated during stressful periods of events.  This means that there will be increased cortisol which is seen as a stress hormone and activate more the amygdala which is involved in fear processing.

There are discoveries that there is HBA dysfunction in individuals with depression and anxiety and within the exercise, the main role of cortisol is to raise blood sugar levels to make sure that glucose is delivered to the appropriate organs for the body.

Therefore cortisol will inhibit the secretion of insulin, it's also important for dampening the inflammation response stimulated by the contraction of skeletal muscles when depression is marked by hp axis hyperactivity exercise has the ability to dampen this HBA axis response to stress.

Now some psychological mechanisms one being distraction the destruction hypothesis suggests that rather than physiological changes the mental timeouts could be responsible for mood elevation.

After exercise, the distraction hypothesis was first thought of about forty years ago where three groups were given mental time out.  One through meditation, one through resting and relaxing in a chair, and went through the exercise.

All three groups showed similar reductions in anxiety and therefore suggested that destruction may be the cause of this reduced elevation in all three groups and it's not just exercised in particular.

And the physiological changes that come with that it's interesting to think that many gyms and fitness centers are provided with loud music or videos to distract people from the exertion that they're doing by exercising rigorously.

One piece of study that looked at attentional destruction during exercise found that harmony had a positive effect on running distance during an exercise session with some schoolboys.

Another piece of the study found that motivational inspiration improved the performance of individuals during high-intensity exercise.

Another theory is master or self-efficacy this hypothesis suggests that the physiological effects of completing an important and effortful task bring a feeling of mastery, which in itself elevates mood one's belief in one's own ability has been positively associated with exercise participation and negatively related to depressive symptoms.

This could be due to a reduction in visceral fat mass change in cytokine release downregulation of toll-like receptors and increase in vehicle tone as inflammation plays a key role in the development of anxiety and depression in some sets of individuals.  

It is clear that there is a link between inflammation mental health and exercise. Anyway, we hope this gave you some understanding of the different mechanisms involved in the association between exercise and mental health.

if you have any questions about what we've written about, or any ideas for future articles then please comment below and if you like this health info article please share it with your loved ones.

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