Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

Exercise can be an incredible tool to benefit all around health and wellness, but the benefits of exercise on mental health is a key component for our brains as we age. Dr. Kyle Vincent, who practices out of our Redhawk office, believes that a good night sleep and physical exercise are two of the most underrated treatments for depression and anxiety.

Restful sleep is hard to achieve when we are not expending our energy throughout the day. We may be using our brains while at work, on the computers or on handheld devices but as Jon Levell, owner of Crossfit by Overload believes, humans are made to move, and we need to use our bodies as they were intended. Exercise can help us to expend that energy and raise our melatonin levels more naturally as the sun sets, which is called the Circadian Rhythm. Circadian Rhythm is the natural internal process that helps us regulates our sleep cycle.

Aside from great sleep, exercise helps raise serotonin and dopamine levels as well as decrease cortisol levels in the blood. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Dopamine, also known as the “feel good hormone” affects several physical functions such as heart rate, kidney function, blood vessel function, sleep, mood, motivation, attention and movement. Cortisol is our body’s main stress hormone and acts as an alarm system for our bodies. If your blood contains a high level of cortisol, you will see an increase in stress, blood pressure, anxiety and depression, weight gain, poor sleep and memory issues. Daily exercise helps our bodies to lower that cortisol level naturally.

Exercise is an important tool for preventative health regarding memory. When we are using our bodies daily, we are constantly strengthening our cardiovascular system and circulation. Increased circulation helps boost blood flow to the hippocampus which is essential for transferring short term to long term memory.  Exercising in a group or in one of our senior classes at Crossfit, can also help our patients to gain a sense of community and help develop new friendships which in turn adds a measure of accountability to help maintain a strong exercise routine.

Helpful Steps to Take

Exercise can be done anywhere! If a class setting does not appeal to you, working out from home is also perfectly fine. Jon recommends a mix of push-ups, pull-ups and squats to help raise your heart rate in order to get a well-rounded workout. Dr Kyle Vincent recommends 20 to 40 minutes of exercise daily! If you have questions about our Senior Crossfit classes call Nichole at (951)-225-6808.

Who We Are

We are family physicians serving south Riverside county with the highest quality of care. Rancho’s goal is to approach medicine differently by offering more cohesive care and education that extends beyond the four walls of the exam room. We do not just make suggestions and write prescriptions, we have taken steps to improve the health of our patients. Our family physicians have developed educational content that empowers their community to make healthy lifestyle changes.  We also have free senior centers for our patients 65 and older that are full of exercise and nutrition classes as well as full online courses teaching a wide variety of health topics. We pride ourselves on going beyond the exam room to make our community healthier and happier.

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