This is the one daily habit that will protect your mental health.


This is the one daily habit that will protect your mental health.

Today’s article comes from Max Jacobs, founder of Brain Performance PT.

Your mental health is arguably one of the most important things you can look after. I think it’s fair to say that your brain controls everything you do, how you feel and what you accomplish throughout life. Therefore it can be seen that a healthy mind will give you the best possible foundation to tackle anything.

However, statistically speaking if you are between the age of 18 and 24 you have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a mental health problem or disorder, which is the highest prevalence among any age group. It is clear from these stats that we need to be proactive in keeping a healthy mind…

…one of the best ways to do this is through exercise. In this article we will discuss a range of topics relating to exercise and its effects on mental health including: exercise as a medicine, evolutionary perspective and exercise programming.

Exercise as a Medicine

‘Exercise is widely regarded as a major component of a healthy lifestyle, with specific effects seen in terms of brain function and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases’. (ref)

‘Although an active lifestyle has always been recognized as the best way to achieve health in the entire history of civilization, over the last two decades, the concept of exercise as medicine, or as a preventive method, became increasingly accepted. Some authors consider physical exercise as a “polypill” that, besides many benefits in preventing and treating several diseases, has the advantage of not generating adverse responses and of being a low cost alternative compared to drugs, surgeries, and hospitalizations’ (ref).

As you can see from the above, it is no secret that exercise is good for you and is now being accepted as a form of medicine due to the positive effects it has on the body and mind.

However while a lot of people understand that exercise is a great way to be proactive and even reactive to mental health conditions, many choose not to take action. Perhaps it’s because we just don’t think it could ever happen to us or that we believe there is going to be a new magical pill to cure all our problems. The fact of the matter is that our bodies are made to move and we need to be physically active so that we can live a long and happy life. If you are finding it hard to get up and exercise or incorporate physical activity into your weekly schedule, I suggest thinking about the benefits that it will bring you.

Evolutionary Perspective

A look into our evolutionary past indicates that our genome remains unchanged from the times of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose active lifestyle predominated throughout almost 100% of humankind’s existence’.

From an evolutionary perspective we are made to move. However due to recent technological advances and our relatively sedentary lifestyle, we are negatively affecting the health of our bodies and brains.

It seems ironic that while engineers are designing and constructing machines to improve our quality of life, these same machines are decreasing our need to be physically active and therefore increasing our risk of developing mental health conditions. Next time you drive your car to work consider:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Riding

If it is too far, consider parking further from work so that you walk the remainder. Doing this will save you money and increase your physical activity levels, resulting in improved mental health. Remember, always think about the benefits.

Exercise Programming

The majority of studies about exercise and mental health have focused on moderate aerobic exercise but there are also studies showing the benefits of resistance training. Therefore it makes sense to include a mixture of both aerobic and resistance training in your exercise program. This program should be tailored to suit your primary goals (e.g. prevent mental health decline) and your secondary goals (e.g. lose fat).

It is important to remember that every little bit counts when it comes to becoming more physically active as you build up to the recommended 150-300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.

Your mental health is arguably the most important thing you can look after. Our bodies and mind have evolved to require physical activity to stimulate a cascade of physiological processes that are critical to improving your mental health. Try to include a mixture of aerobic and resistance training and always think about the benefits exercise can bring you. Remember that every little bit counts.

Author Bio

My name is Max Jacobs and I’m the founder of Brain Performance Personal Training. I believe exercise is the key to unlocking your full potential. If you are interested in exercise and the positive effects it can have on your brain performance and mental health, come check out my website, Facebook & LinkedIn Page.

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  1. Kulebra on January 8, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Hi Sara,

    Awesome read! Exercise is indeed health not just for the body but for the mind. Humans, are made to move tho as technology progresses so as reducing our ability to do something by ourselves. We must always remember that we need not just to improve our health but also our mental health. If we don’t move much, our brain deteriorates. I agree to this, thumbs up! Hoping for more great reads!

  2. Theodoor de Bie on January 12, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I am one of the most uncoordinated persons, 70 plus old. I never could walk in a straight line and bumped into my company when we walked on the footpath. Having read “the brain that changes itself” by Norman Doidge, I decided to get my left and right brain to better work together.
    I taught myself to bounce a beach ball.
    Ten times left hand and ten times right hand.It took me a couple of months, but I can do it now 500 times without losing the ball.
    Now I can walk straight and even balance on the concrete edge of the footpath. My adult son rang me to tell me that his mates wanted to know why his dad was balancing on the kerb with a beach ball under his arm.
    Did bouncing the beach ball train my brain or did I just become more nimble? Who cares?

    I could not sleep well, and decided to jump on a small indoor trampoline to loosen my muscles each time I woke up in the middle of the night.
    I get more sleep and do no longer need to take anti acid drinks for my hiatus hernia.

    • Sarah McKay on January 21, 2016 at 5:47 am

      Great to hear. Exercise is the best exercise 😉

  3. N.N on January 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Dr. Sarah,

    A couple of years back I read your article, I can’t recall the title but it had solid references to Exercise and the common things that connect healthy folks from Obama to Tony Abbott.. It has something like ‘Don’t you get it?? Exercise’

    Simple writing, effective message, I probably needed to read it out then and having heeded the message, I am about 81/2 kilograms lighter now.

    Well done for conveying complicated gobbledegook in a simple way..


  4. Donna Blanchard on January 22, 2016 at 1:35 am

    An excellent read Sarah, blood flow, vitality, range of movement, mindfulness, rids toxins, helps drain lymphic system, better organ function, well-being on all levels .., body and mind health through exercise <3. Thank you

  5. […] post was originally published on this site Today’s article comes from Max Jacobs, founder of Brain […]

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