The Latin saying: Mens sana in corpore sano, translated as: “A healthy mind inside a healthy body,” is topical at the onset of the 21st century.
Individuals who wish to separate best physical activities, physical health from mental health are destined to fail since the two are intertwined.
Through various forms of best physical activities and exercise, we build out mental strength to the point that depression and anxiety become a thing of the past.
9 Best Physical Activities for Mental Health
#1. Swimming as a full body workout
If you are looking for an activity that will engage nearly every muscle in your body, then look no further than swimming. Unlike professional swimmers or water polo players, you needn’t swim for miles or swim for a full hour.
A session lasting from 10 to 30 minutes is enough to keep you safe from cardiovascular disease and lighten up your mood. Swimming brings back childhood memories of traveling to the seaside or the local swimming pool in summer and spending hours splashing around.
However, people who are afraid of water or don’t enjoy swimming at all should stay clear of water, as it may worsen their mental state. Luckily, the percentage of these individuals is small, so don’t forget to renew your membership at the local sports center.
#2. Control your breathing through practicing yoga
Swimming and yoga have one thing in common: regulating breathing. Becoming conscious when you inhale and exhale has a surprisingly positive effect on your state of mind. The gentle yoga moves make it ideal for seniors and people with mobility issues.
The ancient Hindu psychology actually combines physical, spiritual, and mental practices to reach the equilibrium of the mind and the body. The growing number of yoga studios in the West is a testimony of the efficiency of yoga to calm the nerves of stressed-out individuals.
Taking long and deep breaths during a typical yoga class shifts the focus away from somber thoughts. Controlling your breathing calms you down to the point your mind goes blank and there is no more anxiety characterized by shallow and rapid breathing.
#3. Don’t underestimate a walk in the park
Just like yoga classes, taking a walk in the park or around the block is a low-intensity workout. We say “workout,” because many people, even personal trainers, underestimate the power a half-an-hour walk can have on our body and mind.
The famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was quoted saying that “all truly great thoughts are conceived when walking.” This stamen is true in the sense that a light walk allows us to reflect on our life in a positive way, as our body is stimulated by this light workout.
#4. Dance your troubles away
Have you ever seen a professional dancer with a smile on his or her face? A radiant smile is more than just choreography, as dancing to the rhythm does make us feel joyful. From folk dances to ballet, you can hope to improve your posture and Hand-eye and foot-eye coordination.
As far as mental health is concerned, actively thinking about the timing and the placement of dance moves while still learning, forces you to live in the present moment. When the music is on, there is nothing else on your mind except getting each step right.
As a bonus, every time you successfully learn a new dance move, your self-confidence gets a little boost.
#5. Cycling and the sense of freedom
Not only are bicycles ideal for getting through heavy traffic in cities but they are a great way to clear your mind. Bikers ride their motorcycles to experience a sense of freedom like no other but cyclists don’t lag far behind, pun intended.
If you want to boost your mental health and only leg calves, then we suggest riding your bike through nature and not urban settlements. In fact, you can take your two-wheeler off-road and challenge your determination. Most BMX bikes are durable because of the alloy the frame is made from, so safety shouldn’t be a concern.
Apart from decreasing stress hormones, cycling has a positive effect on intrinsic motivation, resilience, as well as confidence. The elderly, who are prone to dementia due to a natural cognitive decline, stand to gain the most from taking up cycling.
#6. Are you getting enough rest?
So far, we have gone through numerous high-intensity physical exercises. However, resting is equally as important as exercising and eating healthily. It may seem like an odd thing to say but you have to train your body to rest efficiently, so your energy levels don’t drop dangerously low.
A little R&R is mandatory because it provides a balance between activity and inactivity, i.e. rest. Just like muscles cramp out when it cannot bear a load anymore, so does our mind shut down when it can no longer cope with the daily dose of stress.
Apart from moderation in every life activity, from exercising to eating and drinking, overnight rest is perhaps the most important factor. If we don’t get enough sleep, we wake up grumpy and unable to cope with the daemons inside. Depression takes over a tired individual faster than it would a well-rested person.
#7. Building up resilience through high-intensity exercises
CrossFit is among the most popular fitness programs but there is a multitude of well-planned high-intensity training. At first, such fitness activity actually increases your stress while but only temporarily. After your body adapts to regular high-intensity workouts, you will start to build up resilience.
An improvement in the overall fitness level will have a positive impact on mental health as well. You will become resilient to stressful situations and toxic people, as they will no longer be able to upset you. Just like high-intensity fitness help your body endure more, so will your mind be more focused on goals, rather than depressing thoughts.
#8. Working the garden
Gardening isn’t a sport but it should be, as its actually physically challenging. Just think of how many times a green thumb leans, crouches, or kneels during the several times a day they spend in the garden.
Add the benefit of spending time outside the house and you get the perfect hobby for people who are looking to improve their mental health.
Fresh air and moderate physical activity are ideal for seniors who have to battle Alzheimer’s and similar conditions that cause memory loss.
#9. Boxing is more than a good cardio
Have you ever heard of the negative stereotype that boxers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed? This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth, as boxing is a sport that requires you to think non-stop, or as some boxers put it: boxing is the poetry of motion.
Learning to “sting like a bee” will help you develop a mindset in which you are constantly thinking about your next move, both literally and metaphorically. With a strong focus on the future, there is no room for depression and anxiety, which are focused on the past.
Boxing can be taken up by anyone, as the basic moves and punches (there are just 4 of them) can be learned by everyone with a desire to learn. You will improve your legwork, as well as breathing, which we have seen from the example of yoga is essential for calming your nerves down.
The 9 physical activities listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more sports and hobbies you can take up to disperse the grey clouds inside your head and adopt a positive approach to life.