Solon: Exercise and mental health

Pio Solon

THE Philippines has the highest number of depressed people in our region. The National Statistics Office reports that mental illness is the third most common form of disability in our country. If you’re driving every day, I’m sure you can relate to how many people have a mental disability just by observing how they drive. Just kidding. Maybe not.

In 2015, the Global Burden of Disease reported that 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders, with suicide rates in 2.5 males and 1.7 females per 100,000. The World Health Organization thinks that the numbers could be higher if not for the stigma associated to mental health problems.

Mental health problems can pose a problem for our youth and yuppies. As to what causes mental health... Social acceptance? Social media? Or perhaps our brains are fried from staring at so many screens? It’s beyond me. How does exercise help though?

Exercise makes you feel good. This is by the secretion of various neurotransmitters that help with mood and stress.

You will not be lonely. Getting out in the world eases the feeling of loneliness which may contribute to depression.

Exercise helps improve your sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked with mental health illnesses. So before you think there’s something wrong with you, make sure you’re sleeping well first.

Exercise improves your brain. Exercise increases the size of the hippocampus the part of the brain that is responsible for memory.

Mental health issues are no joke. But there are ways to manage it. I believe that mental health is often tied up with physical health, too. Get healthy in your body and get healthy in your mind. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, make sure to exercise and sleep well. Most importantly, ask the help of a mental health specialist or counselor.