Fit Mind, Fit Body: What’s the Connection?
Doctors are discovering more every day about how physical and mental health impact each other. There is increasing evidence that poor physical health increases risks for mental health problems. Likewise, depression and other mental health issues can contribute to everything from back pain to heart disease.
Take into account a few of these facts:
- Depression has been linked to a 67 percent increased risk of death from heart disease.
- A 2011 study showed that six weeks of bicycling or weight training reduced the symptoms of anxiety for women suffering from anxiety disorders.
- A study of patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease found that 22 percent of the participants had at least mild depression.
- The size of the brain’s hippocampus, which affects memory and spatial navigation, is larger in subjects who are more physically fit.
Physical Signs of Emotional Distress
In addition to research studies that point to the mind-body connection, your own body may be sending you signals if your emotional health is out of balance. Stress, anxiety, and grief may show up as aches, pains, and other more serious problems. A few of the physical signs of emotional distress include:
- Back pain
- Changes in appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Extreme tiredness
- High blood pressure
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain or loss
Easy Ways to Care for Your Mind and Body
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to boost both your mental and physical health at the same time.
- Stay Active – Exercise not only burns calories and builds muscle, but also releases endorphins, known as feel-good chemicals. Even gentle exercise, such as gardening or walking, can increase energy and promote a more positive mood.
- Balance Your Plate – Good nutrition can help control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and help mental health conditions like depression. Be sure your plate includes lean protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to limit processed foods and foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium.
- Relax and Unwind – Try listening to music, deep breathing, yoga, or guided meditation to help calm your mind and your body. You may need to try several different relaxation techniques to find the combination that works for you.
Team Up with a Doctor
Doctors at LeBauer HealthCare are available to help patients achieve both physical and mental health goals. Psychologists and clinical social workers offer counseling for a wide range of mental health concerns at LeBauer Behavioral Health in Greensboro.