Mental Health: Exercise and Rest
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the hustle-and-bustle world that we live in can be challenging. Taking good care of your body and mind can make a difference in your general health and how well you cope with change. Exercising, relaxing and getting enough rest will help you enjoy life to the fullest.
Getting the correct amount of quality sleep is essential to your ability to learn and process memories. Additionally, sleep helps restore your body’s energy, repair muscle tissue, and triggers the release of hormones that affect growth and appetite.Â Just like exercise, the amountÂ of sleep you need depends on your age. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends at least 11-12 hours for preschool-aged children, 10 hours for school-aged children, 9-10 hours for teens and 7-8 hours for adults.
The quality of sleep matters, too. Quality sleep refers to how much time you spend in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM is the most restorative of the five cycles of sleep and should account for one-fourth of the time you spend sleeping. For example, an adult who sleeps eight hours in a night should spend a total of two hours in REM sleep.
If you don’t get enough sleep, or good quality sleep every once in awhile, you may notice that you wake up feeling groggy and experience difficulty concentrating. If you consistently do not get enough quality sleep, you are at higher risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity,Â headaches and depression.
While there are no specific guidelines for how much relaxation a person should incorporate into his or her lifestyle, making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important factorÂ of maintaining good health. Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety, but is also shown to improve mood. Deep relaxation has many other potential benefits as well–it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Making time to have fun is also an important element of relaxation. Laughing decreases pain, promotes muscle relaxation, and can reduce anxiety.Â If you aren’t getting enough time to relax, you may find yourself feeling tense and stressed out. Long-term stress, if not addressed, can cause a host of health issues, including chest pain, headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, changes in sexual desire and the ability to focus.
Getting the appropriate amount of exercise benefits nearly all aspects of a person’s health. Not only does exercise help control weight, it also improves mental health, mood, chances of living longer, and the strength of your bones and muscles.
Adults ages 18 and over need at least 2Â½ hours of moderate aerobic activity each week and muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week. Children and adolescents need an hour of physical activity every day, with vigorous activity at least 3 days each week. They also need muscle and bone-strengthening exercises at least 3 days of the week.Â You don’t have to spend hours on a treadmill each day to meet the recommended amounts of physical activity. Ten minutes of moderate or vigorous activity at a time 15 times a week (roughly twice a day) will take care of it.
Not getting enough exercise puts you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and some cancers. Additionally, if you sit or stand for too long, you are more likely to have back pain, so it is important to alternate standing and sitting throughout the day and make sure to move around periodically.
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