Exercise and Mental Health

As holistic pediatricians, we want to look at the whole person when it comes to improving the general health of our patients. Mental health is key in having a healthy, happy life. We all know exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know it is good for your mind, as well? Our mental health, in particular, benefits greatly from exercise.

Getting our heart rate up through exercise has many overall benefits. It can keep our body weight in check, lower our blood sugar, help prevent disease, and increase our strength and agility. Physical health can affect our mental health. Children are beginning to be diagnosed with illnesses that only affected adults in the past. Some of this is due to diet, some to better testing, and some of it is due to a more sedentary lifestyle for the modern family.

Studies show daily exercise for children can decrease rates of depression and increase attention spans in children with ADHD. Sixty minutes of exercise a day appears to be the sweet spot. With shrinking recess times, parents need to take an intentional role in making sure children are getting the exercise they need.

Here are some ideas for incorporating exercise into your child’s day to help jumpstart your planning:

  • Family walks
  • Using an exercise bike or treadmill during screen time
  • Challenge a neighboring family to tug-of-war
  • Hula-hoop competitions
  • Bike rides
  • Bounce on a mini-trampoline while practicing spelling words
  • Before and after school stretching
  • Game of chase

The most effective way to encourage children to exercise may be to demonstrate by your actions that you value physical activity. Let your children see you being active and spend time with them in physical activity. Whether they admit it or not, children want to be like their parents. Better physical fitness can lead to better mental health, which can help families be more successful in all their endeavors.

Is your child struggling with their mental health? While exercise is great for overall mental health, sometimes you need medical intervention. If you are feeling uneasy about your child’s situation, please give us a call and schedule a consultation. We are here for you.