This paper focuses on the relationship between physical exercise and mental health. Kristen Weir is the author of an article titled “The exercise effect.” She wrote a cover story incorporating various evidence-based studies relating to physical exercise on mental disorders. In this paper, I argue that physical exercise can help treat patients with mental disorders, either as a mere treatment or supplement. In this case, the paper will examine how physical disorder helps with mental health through mood, anxiety, depression, and physical outlook accomplishment.
Physical exercise helps in alleviating depression. According to a correlation-based study, people who have been more physically active are less depressed than inactive (Weir 48). James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University who conducted a study on depression, has proven the claim. The study involved a group of patients who showed major depressive disorders. Blumenthal helped one group of patients perform the home-based exercise while on antidepressant therapy and the other group on placebo pills only. The results indicated that those who performed exercise and took the antidepressant pills showed a remission than those who were not exercising. I agree with this because of the connection that physical exercise has with mood. After doing an exercise, we likely feel relaxed. However, the relaxation is usually short, but the relaxation becomes long-term if the exercise becomes regular. Feeling relaxed is a way of relieving depression. “Exercise seems not only important for treating depression, but also in preventing relapse,” Blumenthal says. Therefore, it is vital for patients suffering from depression to consider combining medication with physical exercise as it has proven to cause increased remission.
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The same study further proved that physical exercise as a treatment is more effective than mental disorders medications. After following up for one year, Blumenthal concluded that those on placebo pills stopped showing effect in the fourth month. On the other hand, those on physical exercise and antidepressant pills showed a decline in the level of depression (Weir 48). The conclusion implies that no matter how one takes the pills, physical exercise is significant. Those who took pills only stopped showing effect after four months, which means physical exercise plays a major role in treating mental disorders. I find this statement, “Exercise, he concluded, was generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder,” not convincing enough to say that physical exercise can be compared to pills. In my opinion, physical exercise has more power than pills. The primary reason is that exercise proved to boost low levels of depression in those who were on both exercise and pills. Hence, when compared to pills, physical exercise is more effective.
Physical exercise has also been associated with treating or preventing anxiety. Jasper Smit, a director of anxiety and research at Southern Western University, and Otto, a co-author of a depression book, researched to study whether physical exercise was connected in any way with anxiety. They concluded that regular workouts reduce the sensitivity of anxiety to stimulations (Weir 48). From this, it can be interpreted that exercise affects the mind because when anxiety occurs, it is usually due to panic and stress that affect the mind. Besides, Smit also carried out another experiment and discovered the same results. “Activity may be especially important for people at risk of developing an anxiety disorder,” he says. In my opinion, this is true because from experience, I have had instances where I felt so panicked over something, and after going for a long walk or doing a ten-minute exercise, I felt better. I felt a sense of relief. Therefore, panic disorder can be treated or prevented by regular physical exercise.
Another important way physical exercise helps treat mental disorders is by boosting a person’s outlook. This could be the most overlooked effect of physical exercise. Many people do physical exercise to boost how they look, reduce weight, burn excess fat around the waist, and achieve flawless skin, among others. However, they do not think beyond the physical outlook. Otto and Smit say that by achieving the desired physical outlook, an individual’s brain is buffered, leading to reduced stress that later positively impacts mental health. Additionally, I feel that the most crucial effect is that an individual feels a sense of accomplishment by achieving the desired physical outlook from exercise. It triggers happiness that has a direct impact on one’s mental health. Thus, physical exercise through physical outlook accomplishment helps in preventing mental disorders.
To sum up, regular physical exercises can treat and prevent mental disorders such as moodiness, anxiety, and depression. In her article the Exercise Effect, Kristen Weir combines evidence-based studies from various psychologists to show the connection between physical exercise and mental health. The first connection is that physical exercise alleviates depression by easing moodiness and bringing a sense of relaxation. With regular exercise, physical exercise is more effective than mental disorder medication such as placebo pills. Another vital point is that out of exercising, one feels relaxed, which affects the mind and directly impacts anxiety. Additionally, through physical exercise, individuals achieve desired physical outlook that boosts their confidence and accomplishment. In turn, it leads to happiness, which drives away stress and anxiety, thus positively impacting mental health. From this analysis, it is evident that physical exercise can be crucial in our lives as our lives depend on how we think and do things. We are left with the challenge of choosing between exercising and gaining mental fitness to help us live better lives or avoid exercise and develop mental disorders that will lead us to live the worst versions of our lives. Nevertheless, we all want to have sound minds that will enable us to make better decisions for better lives; therefore, let us embrace regular physical exercise.
Weir, Kirstein. “The Exercise Effect.” Vol 42, no. 11, 2011, p. 48. American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise#. Accessed 28 Feb 2021