How To Improve Physical Health & Its Importance to Your Mental Health

FEATURED
January 17, 2023

Nue Life

Nue Life
6 MIN READ
This article was medically reviewed by Kristen Davis, PA-C.

Top Points:

  • Physical health includes proper exercise, diet, and managing feelings of stress.
  • Physical health and mental health are closely linked. A change in one can affect the other.
  • To improve your physical health, focus on attainable exercise, gradually making healthier dietary choices, and managing your stress.

When most people think of physical wellness and health, they typically think about the body alone. Of course, improving physical health is a key component for anyone looking to boost their well-being and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Physical activity, regular exercise, and a clean diet go a long way when it comes to taking care of your body. However, improving your physical health is also vitally important to your mental health.

Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked to one another — when one slips, it tends to take the other with it. Here, we’ll explore some simple ways you can improve your physical health that also have a ripple effect on your mental health.

What Is Physical Health?

In simple terms, physical health can refer to the state of your physical body and how well it’s functioning and operating. When most folks think about “health” or being healthy, the first thing that typically comes to mind is physical health. But physical health is certainly not one-dimensional.

Physical health is synonymous with the idea of physical wellness. Physical health and wellness can be broken down into four elements or pillars. Together, these pillars make up the structure of physical health.

They include:

  • Diet
  • Hygiene
  • Fitness
  • Lifestyle

Achieving good physical health can be hard when one of these pillars is missing or lagging behind. For example, an unhealthy diet can negatively impact your physical health, and a lack of physical fitness can also affect your overall health and quality of life.

Simply put, poor physical health can cascade into other areas of your life. When you’re not feeling your best physically, it can have a toll on your mental health, which in turn can impact your performance at school or work, your social relationships, and your overall quality of life.

Let’s take a closer look at how your physical health can affect your mental health.

How Does Physical Health Affect Mental Health?

Like our physical health, mental health is multifaceted. It includes our social, psychological, and emotional well-being. Mental health can affect how we feel, think, and act. It impacts our choices, how we handle times of stress, and how we interact with and relate to others.

According to statistics, mental health treatment is on the rise in the United States. The percentage of adults who received treatment for mental health increased from 19.2% to 21.6% from 2019 to 2021. The greatest percentage increase came among those aged 18 to 44. These trends show no signs of slowing.

Numerous factors can impact mental health, including a combination of situational experiences and biological factors.

Factors that contribute to mental health problems can include:

  • Biological factors (like genetics and brain health and chemistry)
  • Family history of mental health issues
  • Life experiences (like trauma or abuse)
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Feelings of chronic loneliness

Physical health also seems to have a part to play when it comes to mental health, depending on the factors at play. For example, physical injuries or illnesses can negatively impact your mental health.

A poor diet can adversely impact emotional health, too, through the gut-brain connection. Another example of how physical health impacts mental health is in the area of sleep. Poor sleep is tied to a number of mental health conditions.

On the flip side, maintaining and actively pursuing good physical health can have residual effects on your mental health. Our mental and emotional state typically improves when we feel good physically and when our body is working as it should.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. It may sound simple or redundant, but the better you feel physically, the better you will likely feel mentally — what’s good for your body is generally also good for your mind.

How Can You Improve Physical Health?

In addition to warding off serious health conditions, improving your physical health and wellness is crucial for improving your mental health. Developing healthy habits, such as getting regular physical exercise, healthy eating, and managing your stress, can all contribute to an overall healthier you. Let’s take a look at each of these in more depth.

Regular Exercise

The benefits of physical activity cannot be overstated. Research shows that being physically active can help improve brain health, strengthen your muscles and bones, help maintain a healthy weight or aid weight loss, and help improve overall health.

Physical activity can also help reduce your risk of disease. These could include cardiovascular or heart diseases (such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol), and type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar).

Regular exercise is generally the best way to increase your physical activity. This includes physical fitness activities like strength training and cardio (aerobic exercise) that can help elevate your heart rate in healthy ways. This can include going for a brisk walk, biking, swimming, yoga, and more.

A Balanced Diet

Another important pillar of physical health is diet. Eating healthy food is one of the best ways to prevent or delay health issues in the present and the future. Along with physical activity, eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of health problems like heart disease, obesity, and more.

While there are a variety of diet plans out there, from low-carb to vegetarian and everything in between, it all starts with making wise food choices.

Here are a couple of simple tips for eating well:

  • Stick to eating a variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Limit foods that are low in vital nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
  • Kick the sugar habit and avoid processed food and drinks. Also, choose healthier fats (unsaturated fats) and avoid foods high in sodium when given the option.

Ease Feelings of Stress

Limiting your stress can also do wonders for your physical and mental health. You can start by avoiding your known stressors.

In addition to regular exercise and healthy eating, other stress relievers could include meditation, establishing healthy sleep habits, enjoying hobbies, and so much more. At the end of the day, you know yourself best.

The Bottom Line

Our physical and mental health are links that cannot be broken; each can positively or negatively impact the other. Thankfully, working to improve your physical health and wellness can contribute to several health benefits, including improved mental health. Start small and enjoy the process.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.

Sources:

Physical Wellness Toolkit | National Institutes of Health

Mental Health Treatment Among Adults Aged 18-44: United States, 2019-2021 | CDC

Mental Health and Sleep | Sleep Foundation

Benefits of Physical Activity | CDC

Plan Your Plate | NIH News in Health

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