Diet, exercise can improve mental fitness

Good mental health is a vital part of overall good health and wellbeing.

Good mental health is a vital part of overall good health and wellbeing.

It is just as important to maintain good mental health as it is to maintain good physical health. When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life, our environment, and the people in it. We can be creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We feel the sadness and anger that can come with the death of a loved one, a job loss or relationship problems and other difficult events but, in time, we are able to get on with and enjoy our lives once again.

According to the Canadian Health Association (2011), three important ways to improve your mental fitness are to get physically active, eat right and take control of stress.

It is common knowledge that exercise enhances our physical condition and combats disease. But it has been found that exercise also has psychological benefits.

Exercise is increasingly becoming part of the prescription for treatment of depression and anxiety. Exercise alone is not a cure but it does have a positive impact. Therapists report that patients suffering from mild to moderate depression who exercise regularly simply feel better and are less likely to overeat or abuse alcohol and drugs. Many studies show that people who exercise report they feel less stressed or nervous even after as little as five minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming. In fact, moods such as tension, fatigue and anger are all positively affected by exercise.

It is known that eating a healthy balanced diet helps to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and a range of other diseases and disorders. But, a 2005 study – “Changing Diets, Changing Minds” – by the UK Mental Health Foundation, which analyzed 500 research studies, makes a persuasive a link between diet and mental health. It suggests that people who eat a diet with too much sugar, too many trans-fats and not enough vitamins, minerals and “healthy” fats seem to be at higher risk for developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and a range of depressive conditions.

The message is not a new one but it is perhaps the most forceful argument yet for paying more attention to the nutrition-mental health connection. What is on the plate becomes the raw material for the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters that control our sleep, mood and behaviour. If the brain is short-changed, intellectual and emotional potential is also short-changed.

Stress can come from major events in life such as getting married or changing jobs, or from minor daily incidents, such as job pressures or holiday planning. The things that cause you stress may not be a problem for someone else. If you did not feel stress of some sort, you would not be alive.

Good stress, such as winning a game or going on vacation, can make you feel more involved and energized. But the negative effects of too much stress associated with being under pressure can affect not only physical health but also mental health.

Because everyone is different, there is no single way to cope with stress. The Canadian Mental Health Association website has a wealth of resources on stress management and topics related to mental health. Locally, there are health professionals who are available to advise you about any mental health matter. If you or someone you know requires mental health crisis intervention counselling, call toll-free 1-877-820-7444. Available 24 hours/seven days a week.

 

– submitted by Agassiz Community Health

 

 

Just Posted

Wildfire update: Fires burning in Fraser Canyon, Highway 7 and Skagit Valley

Several fires in the region are under ‘modified response’ meaning no firefighters are attending

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Chilliwack is home to Sasquatch, the first Canadian-designed hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, the Sasquatch hop is the country’s first patented hops plant

Highway 7 down to one-lane alternating as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Metro Vancouver water reservoirs in ‘good shape’

Reserves sitting at 70-per-cent full, officials said, despite long stretch without major rain

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

Most Read