Mental Health and its Link to Fitness
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How Does Diet Affect a Person’s Mental Health and Desire to Exercise?
So often people are faced with fulfilling their exercise goals or choosing to relax with a TV show, book or another form of entertainment that requires little-to-no movement.
Choosing to skip a workout isn’t going to result in long-term consequences. However, if exercise is regularly ignored, the chance of developing health issues increases. An exercise routine also can break, and a good habit can end.
By increasing their energy and motivation, a person can also improve their desire for an active lifestyle. So too can having good mental health. Fortunately, one lifestyle change can improve a person’s mental health and give them more energy for fitness activities.
The Connection Between Diet and Energy
Exercising regularly raises one’s mental health psychologically and chemically. Going to the gym and noticing muscle gain or consistently doing cardiovascular activities and experiencing weight loss can improve a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Additionally, moving the body can produce feel-good chemicals such as endorphin and dopamine, which can cause short-term euphoria and improved moods for the remainder of the day.
Having enough energy to exercise is vital, and a person’s diet can affect whether they have enough energy to hit the gym or go for a jog. Eating fried or greasy foods can drain energy and leave people feeling bloated. Skipping meals can result in a lack of motivation, too, as the body doesn’t produce enough nutrients throughout the day on its own and relies on food and liquid for energy.
“There’s nothing worse than skipping meals,”WebMD states. “Your body needs fuel, just like a car. If you don’t provide it, your body will break down muscle tissue to generate it.”
Even if someone manages to exercise despite their poor dietary habits, the workout might be lackluster. Maybe they don’t run as fast or as long, or they don’t lift as heavy of weights as they planned. Lacking energy doesn’t always mean people skip workouts, but completing a high-quality exercise routine is challenging when people are tired or feeling sluggish.
Which foods can make people more motivated to exercise? According to Healthline, any food that increases potassium (bananas), protein (eggs, lentils and quinoa) or fiber (brown rice and apples) can raise one’s energy level. Substances like fatty fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and reduce fatigue.
Other easy ways to increase energy include:
- Trading out carbonated drinks for water
- Not skipping any of the three main meals
- Swap out sugar snacks for high-protein foods such as peanut butter or yogurt
How the Foods We Eat Can Affect Our Happiness
Just as exercising can improve one’s mental health, the opposite can occur. Having good mental health and consistent happiness can increase a person’s energy level. Feeling confident and comfortable with one’s own self-worth and relationships with others can further inspire someone to continue their personal hobbies and interests, which can include fitness aspirations.
Having poor mental health — whether it’s high amounts of stress, feelings of anxiety or experiencing depression — can leave people unmotivated to exercise or participate in other interests because their mind is distracted by negative thoughts.
“Depression saps motivation so completely,” explains an article on HealthyPlace.com, “the depressed person can often find herself in the midst of a pile of tasks left undone and plans left unrealized.”
Like low energy levels limiting the quality of a workout, poor mental health can also disrupt an exercise routine.
What someone eats can improve their mental health, thus helping them reach their fitness goals. Certain foods (such as white bread or processed meat) can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression while others can increase a person’s Vitamin D and Vitamin B levels, both of which can affect a person’s mood. A deficiency for either vitamin is one of the causes of depression and mood swings. Foods such as spinach, kale, fruits, salmon, tuna and whole-grain nutrients all include healthy vitamins and regulate serotonin, one of the chemicals that interacts with the brain and can alter a person’s mood. Foods that have omega-3 fatty acids — such as chia seeds, eggs and seafood — reduce feelings of depression.
Dark-chocolate lovers can still enjoy their treats. This food can reduce stress chemicals in the body, as can drinking green tea. Less stress usually results in more happiness and a free mind to focus on interests such as fitness and physical health.
Understanding how a person’s diet can affect their energy levels and mental health is important for anyone who regularly works out, or wants to begin a consistent exercise routine. Focusing on consuming omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin-rich foods — and doing away with substances that are high in fat and sugar — can increase how often a person exercises and the quality of those workouts.