A group of older adults balance their mental and physical health by doing yoga poses with outstretched arms outdoors.
Wellness trends

The Importance of Balancing Mental and Physical Health

May 16, 2024

Making good lifestyle choices is important in living a healthy, long life. What foods you eat, how often you exercise, and what risky behaviors you avoid all play a large role in your well-being — but it isn’t the full answer to living a healthy life. 

Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing and it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between the two. Stress is an underlying cause of so many illnesses and it can become unmanageable if you only focus on getting exercise and eating right while ignoring your mental state. 

With only so many hours in the day, it can be difficult to balance prioritizing your mental and physical health. Luckily, there are activities that can help bolster both — let’s explore strategies and activities to improve your overall well-being. 

Getting Exercise While Clearing Your Mind and Improving Your Mood

While exercise has both physical and mental health benefits generally, there are some forms of exercise that may be less relaxing and therefore stressful for patients looking to clear their minds or meditate while working out. Here are a few low-impact exercise suggestions that can help with both mental and physical health:

  • Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve flexibility, strength, and mental clarity.
  • Walking or Hiking: Taking regular walks or hikes through nature not only enhances cardiovascular health and can provide exposure to vitamin D through the sun, but also boosts mood and reduces stress.
  • Dancing: Whether it's salsa, hip-hop, or ballroom dancing, dancing is a fun way to improve cardiovascular fitness while uplifting mood and enhancing cognitive function. Dancing, especially partner-based dance styles, is also incredibly social and can improve mental health through increased interpersonal connection.
  • Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that works the entire body, improves cardiovascular health, and promotes relaxation — many folks who practice lap swimming can meditate and clear their minds while swimming laps.

Knowing When to Take a Break

Just as important as getting your body moving is knowing when to slow down. Be sure to balance your exercise-heavy days with days of rest and relaxation. Use your relaxation days to focus on your mental health — explore journaling, guided meditation, or other mental exercises to improve your overall well-being.

There is such a thing as over-exercise or exercise compulsions — if you feel that you struggle to find balance it’s important that you reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional to seek advice.

Prioritizing balance in your life is a great thing to do, but always be sure to consult with your doctor about your unique needs, if there are any exercises you should avoid, and how to best build out a lifestyle that supports your mental and physical health. 

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