Exercise and Nutrition for a better mind-body connection.

Rates of depression and anxiety are at record levels in countries as diverse as India, USA, the UK and China.

Many aspects of modern life without a doubt contribute to depression and anxiety

  • Social isolation
  • Poor diets
  • A focus on money and image
  • Inactivity

If we include more frequent exercise and better nutrition into our lives could these alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety?  If you want to know more continue reading.

What is exercise?

Me snowshoeing in the White Mountains.

Any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.

What are the benefits of exercise?

  • Controls weight
  • Combats health conditions and diseases
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts energy
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Puts the spark back into your sex life

What is the relationship between mind and body when we talk about exercise?

The mind and body connection or physical and mental health are perceived as separate from one another in western culture.

Starting in the late 17th century the duality of mind and body became separate from each other in the western mind set. A benefit from this included improvements in the medical fields, but the spiritual and mental well being of a patient was seen as separate problems from the physical aspect of their health.

It wasn’t until the late 20th century when western societies started reconnecting the duality of mind and body. An example of this is the growing popularity of practicing yoga.

What is yoga?

A mind and body practice that combines physical postures, breathing and mindfulness techniques such as meditation.

I’ve discussed the connection between mind and body in another blog. http://themindfulmastermind.com/2019/04/09/brain-gut-connection/

The idea of exercise as being fundamental to mental health is something we don’t think much about.

For some exercise such as walking or going to the gym is a way to improve their moods in the short term. Exercise can be used to get a break from the current conditions that are being faced such as stress and anxiety.

There is evidence that exercise is not only necessary for sustaining good mental, but it can be used to treat mental illness.

Why can it be a good treatment for mental health?

Exercise appears to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The volume of certain brain regions increase as we exercise regularly. The increase in blood flow leads to improvements in oxygen and nutrient delivery and can stimulate neurogenesis of the hippocampus.

What is neurogenesis?

Neurogenesis is the process of generating new neurons in the brain and leads to improved brain function.

What is the hippocampus?

The hippocampus is a brain region responsible for:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Memory
  • Learning

In a previous blog I went into detail about the hippocampus.


I was discussing how the hippocampus can either grow or shrink depending on environmental conditions such as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking cannabis with too much THC. Both of these factors can cause the hippocampus to shrink.

Exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus thus reducing depression and anxiety. A patient that engaged in 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise like brisk walking , running or cycling  three to five times a week had improved mental health due to neurogenesis.

What role does nutrition play in mental illness?

The most common nutritional deficiencies in patients with mental disorders.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • B vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino-acids

Diet and mental illness may be related. There was research done on two patients.

One had a poor diet with:

  • Processed meats
  • Chocolates
  • Sweet Desserts
  • Fried food
  • Refined cereals
  • High-fat dairy products

The other patient ate a diet rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish

The patient with a poor diet reported a higher rate of depression than the patient that ate healthy. The four nutritional deficiencies are more likely to occur due to poor diet vs eating a healthy diet.

How often do you exercise? How does it make you feel?

Please like and comment below.




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