“Oh my goodness, this is a must do!  Adults and children, it felt like I was in a different country while I was in the middle of the forest with tree mazes and zip lines surrounding me.  My son is 5 and had a ton of fun on the course they created that is not as large as the adult course. The adult course is very high up and exhilarating! So much fun, and not expensive for such a great experience. It wore my son out after only 2 hours.  The employees were awesome and they were playing great music while we were climbing which made it even better!!” – Austynne Blaine (Local Guide), Five Stars, Google Reviews

We wanted to kick off today’s blog a little bit differently than usual. We couldn’t help but take the opportunity to highlight this glowing five-star review provided to us by a Grand Rapids local guide, Austynne Blaine. Not only are her kind words so special to us, but they lead into today’s blog topic quite nicely! 

In today’s blog, we are exploring what exactly exercise can do for mental health. We’ll take a look at a few studies to learn what recent research has to say on the matter. If you’ve been looking for a reason to get outside and get some exercise (that doesn’t involve CrossFit or jogging), we’ve got the Grand Rapids activity for you! 

The Benefits Of Exercise For Mental Health

While most people have some knowledge of the physical benefits of exercise (it keeps you healthy and reduces your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other health problems), there isn’t the same level of understanding regarding the benefits that being physically active can have for one’s mental well-being. 

Obviously, mental health is important, but it’s perhaps never been as widely discussed as it is in 2019. Perhaps this is because the rates of anxiety and depression are at peak levels, everywhere from the UK and USA to China and India, according to Psychology Today. Psychology Today also notes that numerous facets of modern life (social isolation, poor nutrition, and a focus on superficial pursuits, among others) have led us to this point. 

Let’s be clear: consistent exercise is not a cure-all, and neither should it be considered a replacement for professional mental health services, such as counseling, if that route is necessary. However, from one degree to another, most of us are familiar with the feeling of levity and serenity that can come from being physically active. The “runner’s high” is what we are sure comes to mind for most of us. On a physiological level, these good feelings are the result of exercise stimulating the production of the body’s natural, “feel good” hormones — endorphins and enkephalins. 

What’s more, exercise helps us de-stress, sleep better, and has been shown to improve memory and focus in certain circumstances. 

Research

We at TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park find all of this incredibly fascinating. And, just to make sure you know that we aren’t simply pulling this information out of thin air, we’ve got some scientific studies to back us up!

Ashish Sharma, M.D., Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Frederick D. Petty, M.D., Ph.D., made the following observations in their study, Exercise for Mental Health: “Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.” 

Sounds pretty unbelievably fantastic, doesn’t it? But how exactly does this happen, and which physical activities can yield these kinds of results? As it so happens, the same study addresses both questions:

Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress…Other hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the beneficial effects of physical activity on mental health include distraction, self-efficacy, and social interaction.

The Perfect Grand Rapids Summer Activity

We couldn’t help but notice that “going to TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park” didn’t make the list of aerobic exercises in the above quotation. But, we will go ahead and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and include activities like zip-lining, completing ropes and obstacle courses, and being out among the trees on that list. Hey, if gardening makes it, there’s a safe bet our aerial adventure course will yield superior results!

So we hope that you’ve found today’s blog interesting. But more than that, we hope it’s inspired you to get out and about a bit more often! If you are looking for a physical activity that’s unique and challenging, why not follow the lead of Austynne Blaine and try our aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids! No matter your skill level or current physical shape, there’s something for everyone at TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park — even the little ones! Book now!