Suicide Prevention: How exercise can improve your mental health

Beautiful senior woman resting after work out outdoor

If you’re reading this and struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline is available to you 24/7. It’s free and confidential: 1-800-273-8255.

Nearly everyone knows about the physical benefits exercise can have on your health. Carrying out some kind of exercise once a day, and a strenuous exercise twice a week can have a substantial impact on your risk of heart disease, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle-related illnesses. While there are no non-medical treatments for depression, exercise is also a great way to help improve your overall mental health and ability to cope with mental illness.

These exercises don’t have to match up to traditional methods such as running, lifting weights, or going to the gym, it’s more important that you feel better while doing them. Do you enjoy gardening, dancing, or biking? As long as there’s a physical component, that might be a much better way to spend your time. Studies have shown that the sense of accomplishment you get from participating in activities doesn’t just feel good, it boosts your mental health as well.

Another way exercise can help is by connecting you to a group of people that have the same interests as you. Joining clubs and organizations can strengthen your social ties, which will help improve your overall mental health. It might not sound like much at first, but these connections can do a lot of help in suicide prevention.

How much exercise is enough to have an effect?

Studies have shown that exercising for 45 minutes, three times a week can work wonders on your mental health. Working on fulfilling tasks and connecting to relevant social groups will also provide benefits. While it might take up to a month for the effects to emerge, the benefits of exercise are far beyond physical.