Diet and Exercise Why are Diet and Exercise Important? You often hear people talking about how eating right and working out can prevent all kinds of diseases and make you live longer. It’s good for more than just your future body and life, though. How you treat your body today affects how you feel tomorrow. The more effort you put into taking care of your body, the better you will feel. This isn’t always easy to apply when you have a mental health disorder, which can sometimes make it difficult to perform the simplest of tasks. Eating balanced meals and getting to a gym can seem like a chore – one you just can’t bring yourself to do today. But eating healthy food and working out are a lot easier than you think, and they have more mental health benefits than you might realize. Effects of Diet and Exercise on Mental Health Healthy eating provides the energy and nutrition necessary to feel both physically and mentally well. Those who eat fresh fruits and vegetables often report better mental health status than those who eat fewer healthy foods. Processed food is also an important factor to consider. These foods tend to be extremely addictive, and problems with weight and other diet-related health conditions can result in intense feelings of depression and anxiety. Physical and mental health are closely connected. The more inactive you are, the higher your risk for developing mental health problems. In some cases, exercise can be a more effective form of medication than antidepressants – with far fewer side effects. But in most cases, they are an effective supplement as part of any treatment program. Physical activity releases hormones called endorphins, which give you a natural “high” feeling. The simple act of going for a 30-minute walk can help improve your mood. Exercise also helps relieve tension and stress, reducing many symptoms of depression and anxiety. Diet and Exercise as Part of Addiction Recovery Diet and exercise are important in any kind of mental health recovery. Combined with behavioral therapy, medication and social support, eating well and working out can help relieve many mental health symptoms that often make it difficult to live life normally. A diet rich in carbohydrates, protein, fat and essential vitamins and minerals keeps your body working at normal capacity while you focus on your behavior, thoughts and emotions. Exercise makes you feel better, even on your worst days. There are many outpatient treatment programs such as individual counseling with a licensed nutrition professional and group classes that can help you better feed your body and your mind. They can also help you establish an exercise routine that works with your schedule. Diet and exercise are their own forms of therapy, and by learning to live a healthier lifestyle, you will find that feeling good isn’t just physical. Your mind will thank you, too.