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In gyms, in parks, on tracks, and on sidewalks, they are walking, running, swimming, and working out. The mentally ill are no longer hid away in scary hospitals and terrifying institutions. They are taking advantage of recent research suggesting “lifestyle modifications” for the mentally ill – they are exercising. The NCBI a branch of the National Institute of Health reports, “Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.” As spring approaches and warm weather becomes the norm, individuals with serious mental illnesses are choosing this, “cost effective way to improve health and quality of life.” Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of mental health professionals can discuss adding appropriate, effective exercise intervention to treatment plans.

Physical activity and exercise play a significant role in maintaining good mental health. Research indicates that low impact exercise has a positive impact on ADHD, behavioral disorders, anxiety, depression, and stress. Releasing endorphins in the brain, exercise promotes a range of important benefits including: neural (new brain cell) growth, reduced inflammation, improved mood, improved memory, feelings of happiness, and self-confidence. Regular exercise coupled with a healthy lifestyle directly affects mental decline associated with the elderly and aging. Exercise has been found to slow and in some cases, stop the acceleration of degenerative disorders such as: Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS. Exercise has been used to slow degeneration of the hippocampus (primarily associated with learning and memory) in Alzheimer’s patients.

People with severe mental illnesses have a high risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. Isolation, infirmity, and immobilization are known risk factors. Regular exercise and physical activity have psychological and emotional benefits. Trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, and behavioral disorders have related symptoms of exhaustion, desperation, hopelessness, and pain. Research continues on the role exercise and physical activity plays in reducing these symptoms. There is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan for mental illness and questions remain about which exercises are proven to be most helpful. Studies today are focused on weight-lifting, mind-body exercises, and yoga. The counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services understand the research, findings, and mounting evidence on adopting exercise into their treatment arsenal.

Improving Lives Counseling Services offers individual, couples, family, group, and video counseling sessions. We accept most insurances and we take SoonerCare and Medicare. Live the life you were meant to live. Call us to learn more.