How Does Mental Health Affect Your Fitness Level?

Mental Health Affect Your Fitness Level

Mental Health Affect Your Fitness Level – A healthy mind and body – are the ultimate duo that gets a person to pursue their dreams, achieve their goals, and live a long and meaningful life. Health is wealth they say; days are better and bearable without diseases that compromise an individual’s overall capacity to lead their lives to the fullest.

Have you ever felt like even a simple workout routine may seem very tiresome and both mentally and physically draining?  No matter how a person wants to stay physically strong and fit, mental conditions such as anxiety and depression can prevent them from being productive and functioning normally. Nobody is safe from them including you and your family and friends too.

Fortunately, there are now various therapies and treatments available thanks to the modernization in medicine and the growing awareness of the public of the various mental health issues out there. One example is residential treatment – it helps individuals who struggle with mental health illnesses by monitoring them around the clock and giving compassionate care. You may check and other sites for more information regarding residential treatment.

There are still many queries on how mental health may affect one’s fitness. It’s crucial to have an in-depth knowledge of the relationship between the two. Being knowledgeable will help individuals understand the importance of having a healthy mind in order to achieve good body fitness.

Mental Health Affect Your Fitness Level

Your Brain And Your Body: How One Affects The Other

The brain is said to be the body’s command centre. It’s responsible for modulating the different organ systems such as the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems.

How the brain works is that the sensory stimulus is read by it. In response, the brain commands the neurons to send messages to the muscle for appropriate movement execution. It has four primary regions: the cerebrum, cerebellum, brainstem, and diencephalon. Together with the deeper structures and the neurotransmitters, they keep the brain healthy.

The following are the brain parts and their important functions:


The cerebrum comprises the majority of the brain and is divided into four lobes: First is, the frontal lobe is responsible for expressive speech, drive, personality, and motor control; Second is the parietal lobe for recognizing and analyzing sensory input, receptive speech, and representation and integration of thoughts. the third is the occipital lobe for visual input and process. And lastly is the temporal lobe, which affects the auditory and memory integration.


The cerebellum is responsible for the smooth coordination of motor activities, balance, and processing of the different muscle positions.


The brainstem conveys the sensory and motor information from the body and is responsible for the autonomic information from the brain’s higher centers to the peripheral body parts. It’s composed of three significant parts:

  • The midbrain is the smallest part of the brainstem, responsible for the coordination of eye motions and control of the lens’ shape and pupil’s diameters
  • The pons plays a vital role in controlling the body’s vital processes such as cardiovascular functions, breathing or respiration, chewing, swallowing, and salivation.
  • The medulla oblongata is linked to the modulation of blood vessel diameter and heart rate (HR), breathing, coughing, swallowing, vomiting, sneezing, and aids in balance and coordination.


Diencephalon is located underneath other brain structures. It’s composed of the hypothalamus, epithalamus, thalamus, and subthalamus.

  • The hypothalamus controls the hormones for body temperature regulation, hunger and thirst sexual pleasure, anger, and relaxation.
  • The epithalamus consists of the habenular nuclei and the pineal gland that secretes melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleepiness
  • Thalamus is the primary relay station between the sensory receptors and the brain cortex.
  • Subthalamus lies inferior to the thalamus and is connected to the corpus striatum, a part linked to muscle activity control

Deeper Structures Of The Brain

Apart from the major components, there are also other important brain parts that contribute to the overall brain function and homeostasis. They’re found in the brain’s deeper areas.

  • The pituitary gland or the master gland controls the endocrine system. It secretes the hormones that control sexual development, promote bone and muscle growth, respond to stress, and fight diseases.
  • The pineal gland regulates the body’s internal clock and circadian rhythms by secreting the hormone, melatonin.
  • The basal ganglia work together with the cerebellum to produce fine body motions such as fingertip movements. A lesion or defect can result in difficulties in movement initiation, muscle tone, and extra movements.
  • The limbic system is the center for emotions, learning, and memory. It’s composed of the amygdala and the hippocampus. They’re responsible for one’s reaction to threats and memory, respectively.

The Neurotransmitters

The brain’s neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry chains of information from one neuron or nerve cell to the muscle, nerve, or organ. They’re responsible for your body’s ability to breathe, eat, chew, digest, think, and all the voluntary and involuntary movements.

  • Dopamine plays a vital part in your body’s reward system such as feeling euphoric, victorious, aroused, and pleasure. A sufficient amount of dopamine improves drive, focus, mood, emotion, motivation, memory, and sleep. However, a deficiency can result in various mental health disorders and neurodegenerative conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, restless legs syndrome, and Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
  • Noradrenaline or norepinephrine is responsible for stabilizing the blood pressure (BP) and HR. It’s linked to promoting focus, judgment, decision-making, alertness, and attention.
  • Serotonin plays a crucial role in alleviating anxiety and pain, increasing appetite, and promoting sleep, mood, and sexuality. Deficiency can result in anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and seasonal affective disorder. Pain can alter the brain chemically and physically; thus, making it a highly essential substance.

Knowing Your Fitness Level

The fitness level refers to your body’s ability to stand up to a given workload and recover in a considerable amount of time. It can be examined by measuring your aerobic fitness, body composition, endurance, flexibility, strength, and power. You may hire a fitness coach or do it by yourself.

You may have to gather the necessary tools such as a weighing scale, measuring tape, yardstick, a stopwatch, a wristwatch with a second hand, and a companion to record your measurements and scores, and help you with the counting. The following activities can determine your overall fitness level:

Get Your BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is measured by getting your height and weight. It’s widely used by doctors, nurses, physical therapists (PT), and other healthcare professionals to determine your estimated body fat.

A high BMI indicates you’re at risk of acquiring potential health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart, lung, liver, or kidney diseases, certain types of cancers, and metabolic syndrome.

Individuals who suffer from mental problems may have increased or decreased appetite. A dietary plan from a nutritionist or dietician can help the person effectively lose or gain weight and attain a normal BMI for their age. Getting the BMI can serve as a basis if the person improved or regressed.

Aerobic Fitness

Before performing the aerobic fitness test, get your HR at rest. You may use a pulse oximeter or do it manually by feeling your radial pulse and putting the index and middle finger on the wrist below your thumb. Using your watch, count the beat starting at 12 for a full 60 seconds.

You may also get your target HR by adding 64% and 76% to your resting HR. These two are your basis for the post-exercise assessment. A lower or higher value may indicate an existing health risk. Make sure to seek medical attention afterwards.

Aerobic fitness can be measured by jogging or running tests. Set a certain distance and time yourself. A lower value indicates a good aerobic fitness level, while a higher one may need more practice and improvement.


To test your flexibility, try the sit-and-reach test. You may put a yardstick or tape measure on the floor. Place it in between your legs and carefully reach ahead as far as you can. Mark and record the distance. You may repeat it at least two times. This test also measures the flexibility of your hamstrings, hips, abdominals, and back muscles. The normal range of findings depends on your age and gender.

Endurance And Strength

The sit-up test can help you measure your endurance and strength. Start by placing a mat on the floor. Lie down with your feet flat and knees bent at a 90 degrees angle. It’s encouraged to have a companion hold your feet and knees firmly to prevent your buttocks from lifting up.

Gently and slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor. You may feel a slight contraction in your stomach and may elicit mild pain. Set the timer for a minute and count how many you can make.

The Brain As The Master Of One’s Mental Health

The brain is a very complex organ responsible for a person’s whole personality, the way they think, move, and interact with their surroundings. Each part plays a unique and vital role in keeping a healthy and functional mind. It’s considered the master of one’s mental health.

From analyzing your thoughts to performing physical activities, recognizing the appropriate movement and pattern execution, and regulating your HR, blood pressure (BP), and breathing – everything is controlled by the brain.

Like a domino effect, everything in your body is interconnected by a network of cells, tissues, nerves, muscles, and organs. Mental health problems are caused by a hereditary or congenital mental disorder, and imbalance or damage due to a certain disease, or trauma. These can compromise your mental health and adversely impact your physical fitness.

Other factors that may affect an individual’s mental wellbeing include:

a. Environmental factors such as:

  • Pollution in the air, soil, and water can lead to mental issues and other conditions
  • Lack of sleep due to stress, overwork, or sleeping disorders
  • Toxin exposure during childhood such as living near factories and industrial sites
  • Chemical and toxin exposure at work
  • Smoking or second-hand smoking
  • Toxic relationships
  • History of abuse and trauma
  • Peer pressure
  • Poverty or financial instability
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Family discord due to parental conflict or divorce.

b. Use of illegal substances such as cannabis, ketamine, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, and others

c. Presence of process addictions (food, exercise, gambling, love, sex, shopping, and gaming)

How Does One’s Mental Well-being Affect Their Physical Health

With all of the information mentioned above, it’s safe to say that the brain and its current health state can impact the physical wellness of a person. Explained below are some examples.

No Motivation To Exercise Or Workout

Anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders are just some of the most common mental health issues. These conditions result from the imbalance or deficiency of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. The disruption in the brain’s homeostasis may lead to little to no motivation to exercise and work out.

Extreme Diet Alterations Leading To Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are examples of eating disorders. Anxiety and depression also affect your appetite. They may result in dramatic weight gain or loss and weakening of the body’s defense system.

Extreme weight loss caused by mental health issues leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition is described as getting too low or too many nutrients. It affects the body from the cellular level, tissue to organ systems. Individuals may have no energy or strength to move around.

Mental Stress Causes A Myriad Of Physical Diseases

Mental stress caused by a losing bet, breakup with a lover, and the like can affect the body, from the tiniest of cells to the multiple vital organs. The immune system weakens and becomes unable to fight against various bacteria, viruses, and other illnesses.

Stress leads to physical inactivity, resulting in a phenomenon called body deconditioning. Daily movement is required to transport nutrients to your cells, tissues, muscles, and organs. It can also promote better blood circulation all throughout your body.

With body deconditioning though, the heart, lungs, blood circulation, and muscles will progressively weaken due to the prolonged immobility. In addition to worse systemic body changes, muscle atrophy may take place in the feet, legs, and arms. It increases the risk for frequent falling and bone fractures.

Importance Of Physical Fitness

While mental health problems can greatly affect your fitness level, it’s the other way around too. Physical activities such as exercising or playing sports can help treat certain mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

When you move your body, the endorphins (happy hormones), dopamine, and serotonin are stimulated and released in the body. Thus, working out can effectively elevate mood and activate the brain’s reward system, making a person feel driven, determined, and motivated.

Taking All Into Consideration

Mental health problems affect one’s general health – from the cognitive to physical aspects. When they’re left undiagnosed and untreated, they can result in serious health conditions such as heart, lungs, and musculoskeletal problems.

When you feel mentally ill, consult your primary physician or psychologist immediately. Nowadays, there are many treatments available such as oral medication and cognitive therapy. Group therapies are also highly recommended – fellow patients and survivors share their stories and encourage each other in a bid to get better together. You can also opt for residential treatment if the doctor thinks you need constant monitoring or if you have inflicted harm to yourself.

For fast and effective recovery, you must adhere to your treatment program and encourage yourself to stay active and eat healthily.


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