Feel Better By Moving Better


Marissa Lopez, Author

In today’s world, more and more teens have been getting into working out. Of course this is beneficial for being fit, but it’s also amazing for mental health.

Poor mental health impacts a lot of people in today’s world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.” People become desperate to find something that will help with their mental health. Well, one solution can be exercising. 

Mental health entails emotional, psychological, and social well-being. MentalHealth.gov, a site that educates and guides, states that mental health “affects how we think, feel, and act. It also determines how we handle stress and choice making.” 

How can exercising help mental health? Working out can have a positive impact on depression and anxiety. According to The Help Guide, an online nonprofit guide to mental health and wellness, “Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication — but without the side effects, of course. … It promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.” 

Working out actually releases the types of endorphins that make people feel happy and energetic, and therefore has positive effects on mood. According to the National Library of Science, “These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.” So not only is one’s mood improved by exercise, but it also helps in handling stress. 

Psychologists also recommend working out for patients to feel a sense of accomplishment. Working out brings positive impacts, such as gaining confidence, social interaction, improved physical health, and a chance to cope in a positive way.

Mariah Martinez, a Santa Fe High student, said, “Working out has certainly made a positive impact on my mental and physical health. … I walk out of the gym every morning feeling accomplished, happier, and relieved after releasing endorphins.” 

She continued, “I love surrounding myself with people who have similar goals and who strive every day to be better.”

Working out should be enjoyable. So that it doesn’t feel like a chore, people need to set reasonable goals and choose activities they will find pleasurable. Gardening, washing a car, walking around the block – any physical activity that gets people up and moving can help improve mood. The recommended time to work out is 30 minutes. 

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic to build a healthy exercise routine:

  • Ask family and friends to support you in working out. 
  • Create a balanced routine
  • Monitor your progress.
  • Build activity into your daily routine.
  • Be flexible. If you’re not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.