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For many people, their fitness journey begins with the desire to lose weight, look better, and physically improve their health. While these are excellent reasons to get involved in a fitness regime, physical fitness is not just physically beneficial. There are numerous mental health benefits to an active lifestyle as well. Frequent exercise can actually be a substitute for medication in some cases, and more physicians are recommending it to aid in combating the effects of common mental health disorder, like these. 



An excess feeling of apprehension known as anxiety is often combated with prescription medication. However, exercise is a naturally effective anxiety treatment that many people are turning to as fitness continues to trend through social media. With anxiety, the surfeit feeling of worry can overtake someone’s thoughts, making it hard to concentrate on anything else. When you add exercise to your routine, it provides a different activity to focus on, rather than the thoughts inside of your own head. Focusing solely on the exercises you are doing provide the mind with a break from agonizing and can help calm you down.    



Stress is a mental disorder that also affects the body physically. When you are stressed, your body tends to tense up and your muscles work harder to maintain this state. Being tense and stiff is a natural reaction to a stressful mind and can have painful and frustrating consequences. High levels of stress can cause sleep deprivation, sore muscles, trouble breathing and focusing, and consistent headaches, to name a few. Exercise releases your body’s natural endorphins, neurotransmitting chemicals that provide a feeling of happiness, to provide relief and alleviate tension in your muscles. 



While anti-depressant medication is a common treatment for depression, it can also come with side effects that can trigger other health disorders. Exercise has been known to help treat depression without side effects that can be harmful to your wellbeing. Touching back on the previously mentioned endorphins that relieve strains on muscles, this chemical also is responsible for a feeling of happiness, calmness, and overall ease in the body and mind. Not only that, exercise provides you with a distraction from negativity inside of your mind and can provide a routine that you can grow to look forward to. 



Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children and adults causes the inability to focus on or complete one task at a time before moving to another. This can lead to incomplete performance, frustration, boredom, and even a slight feeling of anxiety. When you exercise, your body produces chemicals in your brain, like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are responsible for a number of functions but more known for contributing to attention and focus on the task at hand. Regular exercise can increase attention long after the workout is over, and can battle against the effects of ADHD.  


Mental health disorders are common in many adults and children and modern medicine has identified ways to manage and sometimes even treat these with the use of drugs that affect neurological chemicals. However, exercise is directly linked to some of the same effects of medicine, with a generally healthier outcome.