Physical Health and Mental Health: The Science Linking the Two

Physical Health and Mental Health: The Science Linking the Two

We often talk about ‘mind’ and ‘body’ as though they were two separate entities, when the two are, in fact, intertwined in the most complex way. Mental health and physical health should be considered of equal importance because neglecting one can have serious knock-on effects for the other. While the medical profession has often treated mental and physical health in a disconnected way, there are now growing calls for a more holistic approach to patient care.

Science backs up the claim that poor physical health affects the mind, and vice versa. With more and more people leading sedentary lives and obesity rates soaring, how are physical and mental health linked, and what can be done to promote both?

Brain Chemistry

When we exercise, the brain releases ‘happy’ endorphins including dopamine and serotonin, which give you a feel-good feeling. Endorphins are important in regulating mood, so even a short workout session can elevate how someone is feeling and lower stress, anxiety and depression. A lack of exercise can have the opposite effect and lower mood, particularly if people are stuck in an office environment where they may feel under pressure and unable to move about as much as they might like.

Everyone enjoys the sense of achievement which comes with setting and breaking personal targets and goals, and sport is one of the easiest places for self-improvement and finding a worthwhile challenge. When we succeed in one area, it often affects how well we perform in other areas – success breeds success. Engaging in physical activity and achieving something on a personal level boosts confidence and fires up the ‘reward centre’ in the brain, and those positive feelings can have a massive impact on mental wellbeing.

Everything Joins Up

Mental and physical health have to be seen as interrelated if we are to care for the ‘whole’ individual. Research carried out by The King’s Fund has found that 30% of people with a long-term physical health condition also suffer from poor mental health, often depression or anxiety. Those with mental health problems are also more likely to develop physical health issues, and many physical health complaints which cannot be explained begin in the mind.

There’s no escaping the fact that neglecting one has serious repercussions for the other. The joined-up nature of physical and mental wellbeing cannot be underestimated, so it’s important that both the medical and fitness professions recognise the link and understand the science underpinning it.

The Road to Better Health

At MVP, we’ve been well ahead of the curve when it comes to the link between physical health and mental wellbeing. We take a holistic approach to fitness, setting ambitious but achievable goals through our carefully customised training programmes and taking care of both body and mind. We can offer your employees the most advanced fitness programmes available, making use of our specially designed training app and the most cutting-edge sports technology. To learn more about our services or to book our expert coaches, simply get in touch with us today.