Mental Health and Fitness: Mental peace from physical suffering

What is fitness?

Fitness and health are very abstract categories. Some people prefer weight lifting, others prefer running, walking, biking, yoga and the list goes on. Instead of thinking of fitness along these lines, think of fitness as a key. Just as a key is specific to its lock, so is fitness to an individual. 

I've tried working out before, and I just can't stick to it.

For the average person, fitness is more or less something that phases in and out of their lives. Usually fueled with new and exciting motivation that fades as the reality of working out sets in. 

This is because we allow another source to drive us along the fitness journey. Whether it be a social media post, an inspiring speech or a shocking doctors visit. The problem isn't in finding inspiration from others, but using that person as your fuel. 

When we don't have our own WHY there is no substance to our makeup and we will crumble when the journey becomes too tough. Without a why, how do we expect to push through the dark times. When your sore and had a long day of work, what is going to push you to put off that relaxing TV time for another two hours because you have to workout? 

Finding peace in the journey of suffering.

Our mind ticks every waking minute, every day. We stress about current events, past events and the uncertainty of upcoming events. We worry about image, family and work. 

We start to associate ourselves with our mind or thoughts. Along this process, we lose the connection our whole selves. The mind is just a portion of a person and completely associating one self with their thoughts becomes a very heavy weight to carry. 

When we engage in a fitness related activity, we get a break from ourselves. Whether it is a 20 minute run or a 2 hour cross-fit session, we lose the connection to our nagging thoughts and begin to feel our bodies. 

We feel the lactic acid build up in our muscles, sweat begin to emerge from our pores, the difficulty just to take a breathe and the pain of a cramp. 

Although, in the moment all the pains being felt in your body coupled with your mind pleading with you to stop and take the easy way out seems almost torturous. After our exercise is completed we get an overwhelming sense of clarity. 

By just taking time out of our day to push our selves physically we gain the confidence from exceeding previously conceived limitations, clarity from taking a break from reality and a great appreciation for the service a chair provides!

Scientific facts for the connection between fitness and mental health.

"Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%." ( 

Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good.

Exercise is also a tool to fight anxiety and stress. It interrupts the cycle of worry and thoughts and allows us to focus on our feet hitting the ground or the wind brushing up against our skin. 

Exercise is even a safer form of ADHD medication. "Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall." (