Physical factors affect mental health


Research shows exercise can decrease stress and mitigate the effects of depression.

From staff reports

College students are at a particularly vulnerable time in life, when mental health issues like depression and anxiety can reach crippling peaks.

Numerous studies have found that physical health has a positive influence on mental health and can combat the disorders many college students face.

Cassandra Nichols, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Washington State University, said physical activity is wonderful for the body. Physical health, or conversely physical disrepair, can greatly influence nearly every aspect of mental health.

A person’s physicality has the potential to improve sleep, reduce stress, and act as a preventative measure against physical and mental ailments. Additionally, regular exercise can also act as a treatment by creating healthy endorphins.

Christopher Connolly, director of the Exercise Physiology and Performance Laboratory (EPPL) at Washington State University, has focused his research on women’s health and the importance of exercise during pregnancy. In his research, Connolly has found exercise to be beneficial for a healthy pregnancy and for mitigating postpartum depression.

While most of Connolly’s research has focused on pregnancy, he has also found that other people can receive similar mental health benefits as a result of exercise.

“Just about everything has an acute and positive effect on health,” Connolly said

This means daily decisions regarding exercise for college students have the ability to either help or hurt their mental health.

Reporting by Kayla Bonar