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Navitas Organics Blog

The Best Rx for Mental Health is Movement

The health benefits of daily physical activity and vigorous exercise have been well established in research literature as effective treatment for a wide range of diseases. As a prevention strategy, the physiological benefits of exercise cannot be understated. It is now known that genetics only predicts 25 percent of future health, while the remaining 75 percent is a result of lifestyle and environmental factors. The relative risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers can be significantly reduced with as little as 2 to 2.5 hours of exercise per week, lowering even further with more time spent engaging in aerobic activity. It should come as no surprise that exercise is also a powerful modulator of mood and mental health disorders. Each May, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, health educators endeavor to reduce the stigma around mental illness by highlighting successful strategies to reduce symptoms and prevent exacerbations of this complex category of diseases. This year, the Fitness #4Mind4Body campaign is advocating for the power of exercise to significantly improve symptoms of disordered thinking, anxiety and poor self-esteem. Adopting a physical fitness routine may be one of the best tools available to those struggling with psychological disorders.

The News is Not Great
Sadly, it has become commonplace to learn of another mass shooting, terrorist act and episode of extreme societal violence in the news today. Mental Health America, a non-profit established in the early 1900s, reports that 18 percent of adults and upwards of 8.2 percent of youth in the United States suffer from mild to serious mental illness. The social stigma of a psychological diagnosis continues to be a barrier to reporting, and therefore, these statistics don’t accurately tell the whole story. Rates of depression among youth have escalated over the past five years, warranting renewed attention to look for new areas of prevention among this demographic. Unfortunately, mental disorder medications like SSRIs, antipsychotics and anxiolytics often cause undesirable side effects like weight gain, impotence and lethargy, which combine to further compromise self-confidence and self-esteem. For these reasons, and for a variety of other physical and psychological benefits, exercise can make all the difference in the successful management of a mental illness.

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