The Connection Between Mental Health + Physical Activity

Eating for gut health is where it all begins at gutzy organic.  Enjoying a colorful variety of organic fruits, veggies and prebiotic fiber is our daily habit – and the inspiration behind our mantra #agutzyaday.  Good gut health supports better mental health, as more than 90% of the body’s happy hormone (and neurotransmitter), serotonin, is produced there!  Physical activity and exercise are also important ways for improving and managing mental health.

A recent article on outlines several mental health benefits from exercise – below are many of them:

Anxiety and Stress

Exercise decreases sensitivity to the body’s reaction to anxiety.  A regular exercise program may help ease symptoms of other common co-occurring conditions, such as ​irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

Exercise helps promote the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in key areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. Some research suggests that this may play a role in relieving symptoms of some conditions, including anxiety and depression.  Animal studies have found that increased neurogenesis may play a role in calming the brain during times of stress.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Exercise may improve motor skills and executive function for children with ADHD. This seems to apply to both moderate and vigorous exercise, and exercising for longer may lead to better results.  Cardio seems to be particularly beneficial for children and adults with ADHD.


Light, moderate, and vigorous exercise have been shown to reduce the severity of depression. In fact, exercise may be as effective as other treatments for depression.  It’s possible that regular workouts reduce inflammation, which has a positive effect on people with this condition.

Panic Disorder  

For people with panic disorder, exercise can be a proactive way to release pent-up tension and reduce feelings of fear and worry.  In some cases, exercise may also decrease the intensity and frequency of panic attacks.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Physical activity may be beneficial for people with PTSD, especially those who have previously struggled with treatment and those with subthreshold PTSD. Exercise may also help PTSD symptoms like depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and cardiovascular problems.

Exercise for Enhanced Well-Being

Do you already feel mentally healthy?  Exercise may enhance it!  Increased physical activity has been found to enhance mood, improve energy levels, and promote quality sleep.

How Physical Activity Helps Psychological Well-Being
  • Exercise decreases stress hormones, like cortisol.
  • Physical activity distracts you from negative thoughts and emotions. 
  • Exercise promotes confidence by supporting weight loss and stronger muscles.
  • Exercise may be a good source of social support, when done with friends. 
  • Better physical health may mean better mental health – while stress may cause illness, illness may also cause stress.
  • Physical activity may improve physiological reactivity toward stress.

Source:  Star, Katharina, PhD.  “The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Exercise”, Jan. 3, 2023.