Mental Health Awareness Month: The therapeutic power of movement for psychosomatic well-being

Niutoli Tuccu

Rehabilitation Psychologist & Proprietor, NT Revivify Counseling Service, Dimapur
In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the theme for Mental Health Awareness 2024 is ‘Movement: Moving more for our Mental Health.’ I want to discuss how physical exercise and movement can benefit our emotional and psychosomatic well-being.

The mind-body are intrinsically linked, with physical health maintenance playing a crucial role in the prevention of mental health disorders. Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most effective strategies for sustaining mental well-being. Exercise induces the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that mitigate stress and anger. This physiological response enhances body image perception and can significantly improve sleep quality.

Physical inactivity poses significant risks to both physical and mental health. Empirical research demonstrates that individuals with sedentary lifestyles have a threefold increase in the prevalence of moderate to severe depressive symptoms compared to their active counterparts. Substantial evidence supports the effectiveness of physical activity in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sedentary lifestyle is positively correlated with heightened risks of depression, anxiety, and general mood disturbances, and it contributes to cognitive decline, including impairments in memory and concentration.

Engagement in regular exercise can reduce the risk of depression by up to 30%. Additional psychological benefits of physical activity encompass increased self-esteem, reduced stress, and enhanced quality of life. Physical exercise serves as a potent stress reduction mechanism by triggering the release of endorphins, the body's intrinsic stress alleviators. In the absence of physical activity, stress levels can intensify, leading to adverse mental health outcomes.

What are the physical, emotional and psychological benefits of physical movement?

The benefits of physical activity are numerous and supported by psychological research.


Regular exercise offers several key advantages such as:

1. Mood improvement: Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act like natural painkillers and mood enhancers, often leading to what's known as a "runner's high."
2. Stress reduction: Physical activity lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol, helping to reduce anxiety and promote emotional stability.
3. Anxiety reduction: Regular physical activity can lower anxiety through various mechanisms, including distraction from worries and changes in brain chemistry.
4. Mood regulation: Exercise can help balance chemicals in the brain that affect mood, serving as a natural way to manage depression and anxiety.
5. Better brain function: Regular exercise supports brain health by promoting the growth of new brain cells, especially in areas important for learning and memory.
6. Increased confidence: Achieving fitness goals can boost self-esteem and the belief in one's ability to succeed, enhancing overall confidence.
7. Improve sleep quality: Exercise helps regulate sleep patterns, leading to better quality sleep, which is essential for good mental health.
8. Building Resilience: Regular exercise can increase resilience, helping people better adapt to stress and adversity by providing a sense of routine and stability.

Despite these benefits, many individuals struggle to include enough movement in their lives.

This Mental Health Awareness month aims to address the various obstacles people encounter, urging them to seek opportunities for physical activity in their daily routines. Regular physical movement is vital for both mental and physical health. By integrating physical activity into daily routines, individuals can significantly enhance their mental health and overall well-being. This Mental Health Awareness month, let's recognize the power of movement as a crucial element in managing physical, emotional and mental health challenges promoting Psychological well-being and overall quality of life.