Mental Health Through Exercise: How To Incorporate Physical Activity into Psychotherapeutic Treatment
Overall, exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood and increase happiness and life satisfaction. It doesn’t just make you healthier— it is key to living the life you desire.
Exercise is one of the best things we can do for our physical wellbeing; this has long been known. It has only been more recently, however, that research has demonstrated exercise is just as much, if not more, beneficial for our mental health. As therapists and clinicians, we hopefully already know about this link, but do we fully comprehend the remarkable ways exercise can change our body and mind? Do we recognize the value of exercise and include it in our clients’ treatment plans? Do we take it one step further and actually teach clients how to start and keep exercising for their mental health?
We need to work with clients to detect potential roadblocks ahead of time, and as they arise suggest options to overcome their personal roadblocks and help them establish a plan.
For most of us, I venture to guess, the answer is “No”. Yet exercise is quite literally one of the best things we can do for our body, mind, and spirit, and the research to back this up is prolific. While we may understand some of the benefits of exercise, we likely do not grasp its full potential. We may even recommend exercise to clients but forego the extra step to show them how to make exercise work for them. As we learn more about the link between exercise and mental health, and the tools to start and stick with it long-term, this can—and hopefully will—change.
For those who learn to manage and stick with an exercise routine, exercise is associated with improved insight, judgment, and mental clarity, all of which alleviate the more intense symptoms of personality disorders.
8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise (8 Keys to Mental Health) 1st Edition
by Christina Hibbert (Author), Babette Rothschild (Foreword)
Inspiring strategies from a wellness expert for keeping fit, relieving stress, and strengthening emotional well-being.
We all know that exercise is good for physical health, but recently, a wealth of data has proven that exercise also contributes to overall mental well-being. Routine exercise alleviates stress and anxiety, moderates depression, relieves chronic pain, and improves self-esteem.
In this inspiring book, Christina Hibbert, a clinical psychologist and expert on women's mental health, grief, and self-esteem, explains the connections between exercise and mental well-being and offers readers step-by-step strategies for sticking to fitness goals, overcoming motivation challenges and roadblocks to working out, and maintaining a physically and emotionally healthy exercise regimen. This book will help readers to get moving, stay moving, and maintain the inspiration they need to reap the mental health benefits of regular exercise. The 8 keys include improving self-esteem with exercise, exercising as a family, getting motivated, changing how you think about exercise, and the FITT principle for establishing an effective exercise routine.
This is SO important! I am struggling with how to propose this gracefully. I do sports and other physical activities (hence some of my resilience?) Recently, I was awarded an ‘assistant instructor of Tai Chi,’ certificate, all to say I,too, continue to learn new ways to move as I get older. I do propose walking, noting 3 special aspects of the Client’s surroundings. They could also listen to an audiobook while walking. Respectfully engaging the body in movemement demonstrates the desire to integrate and listen to this subconscious domain. That puts work on M/B dissonance into direct action.
I’d argue that physical exercise is actually one of the most important things for improving/maintaining mental health. The problem of course lies in the fact that it’s often hard to get yourself to do exercise when you’re suffering mentally, so the trick is figuring out ways to get people to do it even when they really don’t want to. It’s kind of like taking bad tasting medicine.
I agree that exercise is very important, but different exercises do different things, for the body and the brain. For example HIIT training does not stimulate neurogenesis like sustained aerobic exercise does. The differences in neurogenesis are significant. However, since HIIT leads to more HRV, I suspect there are different mind/brain benefits.