The Significance of Fitness for Mental Health
The Significance of Fitness for Mental Health
Mental health refers to the normal functioning of mental activities and good psychological qualities. It also refers to a continuous and positive developmental state in which individuals can adapt well to environmental changes and fully utilize their physical and mental potentials. The ideal state of mental health is characterized by good character, normal intelligence, correct cognition, appropriate emotions, strong willpower, positive attitudes, appropriate behavior, and good adaptability. A mentally healthy person does not mean absence of pain and distress, but rather the ability to timely relieve oneself from pain and distress, actively seek new ways to change unfavorable situations. Mental unhealthiness can generally be categorized into three conditions: psychological issues, psychological disorders, and mental illnesses. If left unaddressed and untreated, they can lead to serious health problems. Therefore, mental health is an inseparable and important aspect of modern human health. Scientific engagement in fitness exercises, on one hand, can stimulate the activity of the body's neuroendocrine system, playing a positive role in regulating stress, and relieving pressure. On the other hand, it can promote the integration between individuals and nature, society, which is of great significance in alleviating psychological issues and psychological disorders.
I. Fitness Exercises and Happiness, Joy, and Pleasure
Whether it is happiness, joy, or pleasure, they all refer to positive emotions that make people feel good and activate the nervous system. The ability to regulate emotions is a sign of psychological maturity and an important guarantee to prevent psychological issues and disorders. The ability to regulate emotional states is the key indicator to measure the impact of fitness exercises on mental health.
In the complex and ever-changing social environment, individuals often experience negative emotional responses such as tension, depression, and anxiety. Fitness exercises can help individuals break free from worries and pain, reduce stress levels, and enhance their ability to cope with stressful situations. Research shows that individuals who regularly participate in fitness exercises have significantly lower levels of negative psychological variables such as anxiety, depression, tension, and psychological disturbances compared to those who do not engage in fitness exercises, while their levels of positive psychological variables such as happiness are significantly higher. When people experience happiness, their brains release a substance called endorphins. In other words, a person's sense of happiness is largely an external manifestation of the concentration of endorphins in the brain. Studies confirm that engaging in fitness exercises can stimulate the secretion of endorphins, increase the amount of endorphins released, and put individuals in a state of relaxation and pleasure. Endorphins are thus also known as "happy hormones" or "youth hormones" as they can make people feel joy, satisfaction, and even help relieve stress and discomfort.
II. Fitness Exercises and Stress Management
Stress is one of the main causes affecting health, and the body's response to stress manifests as abnormal mental and self-perception, such as tension, fear, anxiety, fatigue, and depression, leading to a lack of confidence, low self-evaluation, exaggeration of one's own shortcomings, guilt, frequent recollection of unpleasant memories, negative anticipation of outcomes, pessimism and disappointment about personal prospects, self-isolation, and in severe cases, even suicidal thoughts. Physiological reactions include significant changes in blood flow, blood sugar, and oxygen levels. Prolonged exposure to high levels of stress leads to various non-specific responses caused by intense stimuli acting on the body. Changes in various functions and metabolism regulated by the neuroendocrine system, including changes in immune system function, can cause fatigue and decline in bodily functions, leading to numerous diseases. Many studies indicate a close relationship between diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, rashes, and sexual dysfunction with excessive stress.
Stress management is the adaptive response to challenges or threats perceived in the environment. Work-related stressors come from both personal and organizational factors. Personal stressors include physical environment, roles and role conflicts, interpersonal relationships, etc. Organizational stressors originate from organizational management policies, structure, procedures, and working conditions. Stress management strategies include exercise, relaxation, behavioral self-control, cognitive therapy, and establishing social and professional networks. Among them, fitness exercises are considered an ideal way to relieve and manage stress. On one hand, fitness exercises can improve an individual's biological condition and function, laying a biological foundation for adapting to society and correcting the negative effects of physiological function during the process of environmental adaptation. On the other hand, the emotional responses generated by fitness exercises, such as happiness, joy, and pleasure, can directly or indirectly alleviate stress.
III. Fitness Exercises and the Development of Willpower
Willpower refers to a person's self-awareness, decisiveness, resilience, self-control, as well as the spirit of bravery, tenacity, and independence, which needs to be cultivated through the process of overcoming difficulties. Engaging in fitness exercises requires individuals to continuously overcome objective difficulties (changes in weather conditions, the difficulty of movements, or external obstacles) and subjective difficulties (fear, apprehension, fatigue, and exercise-related injuries), as well as constantly experience the feelings of setbacks and failures during the exercise process in order to achieve various successful experiences. The process of fitness exercises, where participants strive to overcome both internal and external difficulties, experience setbacks and feelings of failure, is precisely the process of cultivating good willpower. Therefore, fitness exercises have great significance in fostering good willpower for children, adolescents, and individuals who display timid or weak psychological behaviors.
IV. Fitness Exercises and the Alleviation of Psychological Disorders
The increasing intensity of social competition and growing life pressures may lead many individuals to develop negative emotions such as pessimism, disappointment, which in turn can lead to various psychological disorders such as depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Research has found that individuals with psychological disorders who engage in a specific fitness exercise program and adhere to regular workouts will see improvements intheir physical fitness and various physiological functions. They will also acquire and develop skills and techniques related to the exercise. Through self-feedback, individuals transmit their sense of achievement to the brain, thereby gaining cognitive and emotional experiences of self-accomplishment, experiencing feelings of pleasure, exhilaration, and happiness. Therefore, fitness exercises can provide psychological satisfaction, a sense of achievement, and gradually enhance self-confidence, helping individuals break free from repression, pessimism, and other negative emotions, and gradually alleviate psychological disorders. Many countries have already included fitness exercises as one of the means of treating psychological disorders.
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