Physical activity is the best ally for good mental health

Every October 10th the world mental health day, a problem that causes concern and alarm in Chile, since our country has the highest percentage at the regional level in terms of concern for this issue (62%), which includes factors that affect our emotional, psychological and social well-being. According to data from Disability and Mental Health Study -carried out in May of this year- by the Chile Mental Health Observatory Statistics Center, 71% of people feel that they lack resources and strategies to improve in this aspect. Even more, 41% who have been treated, say they have not received clear information about their disease.

Against this background, specialists focus on sports as an excellent option to positively contribute to the state of mind of Chileans. «Physical activity is recommended to the general population by many medical and sports institutions around the world, because it is considered an important tool for improving mental health»explains the psychologist Nestor Gonzalez, academic from the University of Alba and specialist in Mental Health. The teacher, Master in Social Psychology, clarifies that, in the case of psychiatric illnesses, «Physical activity could be an effective measure for the treatment and even for the prevention of depressive disorders and anxiety.»

Therefore, sport stands as an excellent option to help improve the state of mind of Chileans. “The practice of sports helps us in physiological aspects, such as the release of endorphins, and being active makes us feel comfortable with our body. Due to the neurotransmitters that are secreted there is an improvement in mood”, explains Bárbara Hernández, a national cold-water swimmer and Garmin ambassador. The «Ice Mermaid»who is preparing for his next challenges in Estonia and Germany in December, adds that linking up with the exercise helps us a lot, “especially outdoors, because being close to nature and sharing with others generates support networks around sports practice”.

In that same line, Maria Jesus Arduraprofessional skier of the team Lippistates that sport is a lifestyle and that has had a positive influence on her, feeling healthier mentally and physically. “I have learned to be more aware of the environment and myself, since it helps me reduce my anxiety levels and thus be able to stay happy and at peace”points out.

According to “Mental Health Thermometer” PUC-ACHSin its May report 2022, one in 5 Chileans has suffered or suffers from one of these disorders. Our country, even, is the one with the lowest percentage of investment in Mental Health among all OECD members, with 2.1% of the total health budget allocated to this line, 6% below what is recommended by the WHO.

This reality measures the importance of sport to combat depressive symptoms, becoming an excellent ally, which is why specialists choose to reduce drugs and recommend physical activity as one of the alternatives to face this problem.