In our society, men are often discouraged from expressing their emotions. However, there is evidence that this is to the detriment of our health. When we freely express emotions without judgment, there is evidence to suggest that we are both mentally and physically healthier. In contrast, when we repress our emotions, it causes harm to our physical and emotional selves. In this blog, we will go over examples that show how your mental and physical health are intrinsically linked.
Mental rest improves endurance
Recent research from Bangor University looked into the connection between mental and physical fatigue. During the experiment, they had participants perform a mentally exhausting task, and then a physical one, and found that the mentally draining task affected their ability to complete the physically draining one. What is interesting about this discovery is that the mental fatigue did not directly impact the performance of the muscles of the heart; performance was affected because of the participant’s perception. As the participant felt mentally drained, they perceived the physical task as more difficult. This has been common knowledge among military personnel for years, as they incorporate both mental and physical endurance tests during training.
Physical fitness = less anxiety
Many studies have shown that exercise elevates mood in the short term, but it also seems to have long-term mental health benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine conducted a study during which participants spent six weeks working out regularly (either biking or weight training). Female participants with anxiety disorders found a decrease in their symptoms, and weight training specifically reduced irritability. Another similar study on mice found a reduction in anxiety when mice were allowed to run on exercise wheels as long as they wanted. It seems that exercise can be a significant way for people with anxiety disorders to cope with their symptoms.
Physical health issues exacerbate mental ones
Many people with physical health problems become socially withdrawn and suffer from depression as they struggle with an illness. Researchers have found that people who have both mental and physical health problems are twice as likely to withdraw socially. Additionally, when people have physical health problems, it can often obscure depression, as depression manifests in many physical symptoms as well, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. On top of that, depression often makes it difficult for people to recover from physical health problems because it colors their view of their own illness as hopeless. Counseling often helps people cope with their depression during a physical illness, and when the doctor and counselor work together, the patient can get the best treatment possible.
Physical fitness impacts the hippocampus
Researchers from the University of Illinois found that physical fitness was correlated with the size of participants’ hippocampuses. Participants who were more physically fit had larger hippocampuses. The hippocampus is responsible for cognitive functions such as memory retention and spatial reasoning. Over time, it shrinks with age. Regular exercise may be able to prevent some of the shrinking of the hippocampus.
With all this in mind, the connection between physical and mental health is clear. Whether you are struggling with physical or mental health issues, come to our men’s health clinic to discuss them with our physicians. We can connect you with the resources you need to be healthier, both mentally and physically.