We all have heard that exercising regularly makes you more fit not only physically, but mentally as well. Well, for those suffering from bipolar disorder, exercise can significantly help control mood swings and therefore combat the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
So, if you struggle with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, having a regular work-out routine can be a simple step toward feeling better. Not only can exercise be good for the mind, but it increases self-confidence, can help you sleep better, and makes you look better as well.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, having a healthy lifestyle, which includes a well-rounded diet, getting the proper amount of sleep at night, and minimizing stress, can make noticeable differences in terms of the quality of life for patients with bipolar disorder. Making exercise a primary part of your healthy lifestyle is an essential component to helping ease mood swings.
Psychologist, Louisa Sylvia, of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, has closely studied the impact of a healthy lifestyle including exercise on bipolar disorder. According to Sylvia, exercising regularly helps to prevent the episodes of bipolar depression that patients face.
Even the American Psychological Association admits that exercise can actually be quite powerful in combating depression. It can even improve anxiety, issues with self-esteem, and some components of addictions. It is important to note however that exercise such as walking and running has been proven to work better on bipolar disorder than exercise involving weight training. Since exercise also helps people get better rest at night, this is another reason it can be so useful to those with bipolar disorder, because it is important that bipolar patients get enough rest, as it helps avoid severe mood swings as well.
While we all know how difficult it can be to stay on a consistent exercise schedule, it is even more difficult for those with bipolar disorder. Since those with depressive disorders have negative thoughts and may feel sluggish, they may lack the motivation to keep exercising daily. Here are some suggestions to keep you on schedule:
-Pick an exercise you actually enjoy to avoid making it feel like a chore to your life. If running is a form of torture for you, as it is for me, try swimming or dancing instead. You are much more likely to continue exercise if it is a pleasant experience for you.
-Don’t push yourself too hard. Start out slowly, especially if you are not used to daily exercise. If you push yourself too hard right in the beginning, you may become discouraged and as a result, quit. Try to have a goal of exercising for about 30 minutes a day for about 3 days each week.
-Since we are dealing with bipolar disorder, it is important that you talk to your doctor and get their advice as to which exercises may be best for you. The medications that you are taking may make a difference as to what is best for you and your body. You may have to do simple things such as drinking extra water while exercising so as to not interfere with your medications.
-One of the best tips for exercising is to find a friend to join you! Exercising with a friend can help keep both of you motivated and can provide great social interaction in your life. Just make sure to choose someone who has a calming effect on you and does not add to your stress.
According to Sylvia, it is important to remember that exercise alone is not going to substitute medications or psychotherapy. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor and try to incorporate exercise into your already existing treatment plan.
Wheeler, R. & Bass, P. 2010. Exercise can help bipolar disorder. www.everydayhealth.com