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Fitness has always been my worst enemy, I never was athletic & when I joined the Army, I initially struggled with the physical fitness testing. Being active was something I did because I had to, not because I wanted to. I did not learn to love working out until after my deployment from Afghanistan. After my deployment I experienced depression, anxiety, mood swings, and PTSD. The doctors and therapist I were appointed to prescribed me medication that caused horrible side effects. I was on the medication for over three months & I noticed improvements with the medications, but I often felt numb like I wanted to cry, but I was not able to. I also would occasionally get stomach cramps or become constipated.

The cramping & discomfort lead me to researching ways to improve my mental health without medication. The first statement to appear mentioned the easing of depression symptoms through exercise. I did not want to run because I loathed running, so I started cycling! I wanted to have a regularly planned schedule of physical activity before I tried to alter my medication because I was advised to not go cold turkey on my medications. The first benefit I noticed from cycling was the high level of energy I had after the fact. After I cycled, I would feel like I could do so much more if I wanted to. My energy would skyrocket after a good cycling session. I started with 4-mile rides, and then progressed to 10 miles rides which was not too much or too little. Staying physically active led to me feeling better inside and once I started it became my routine. Even when I stopped cycling everyday due to physical circumstances, I maintained physical activity with walking, cardio, & strength training.

The exercise that changed my life was yoga! I had never tried yoga before the military. After deployment, my mind would always wonder, and I would overthink about situations that made me upset. I was recommended to try a yoga class. Yoga & physical fitness became my daily dose of medication and I stopped taking 2 out of 3 of my medications and started to feel alive again. I felt good physically, but mentally I was working on staying grounded and focusing on the positives of my life. I personally know from experience how hard life can become when you are mentally, physically, & emotionally burnt-out. Thirty minutes of any type of exercise is highlyย recommend ifย you struggle with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, PTSD, or any mental illnesses. Staying active can help maintain your weight or appearance, but my main reason for working out is the psychological benefits. I must maintain my physical activity for my mental health. It is imperative that I workout out at least 4 days out of the week. If there is a day, I cannot be physically active for whatever reason then I often just meditate in silence or do a quick yoga session to ground my mind and make sure I am mentally ready to start my day.

Fitness of any kind is a lifestyle and a commitment to better yourself. I challenge you to take ahold of your life and give yourself just 30 minutes a day to be physical, and 15 mins a day to just sit in silenceโ€ฆ. Your life will be changed! I listed my top 3 mental benefits of exercise below. As always, I hope that you are healing & growing through lifeโ€™s ups & down.


My top 3 mental benefits of exercise:

  1. Help cope with anxiety & depression: Exercise can decrease the symptoms you experience from anxiety & depression.
  2. Reduce your stress levels: Being active can simulate neurohormones that improve your mood and improve the way you think about stressful situations.
  3. Increase your self-esteem & self-confidence: Fitness leads to a nice physique which could give you a boost of confidence in your appearance & how you feel about yourself.

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The Pearl Blog
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