Physical health and mental health
A clear distinction is often made between 'mind' and 'body'. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate.
Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.
Since the founding of the NHS in 1948, physical care and mental health care have largely been disconnected. There is an increasing call on healthcare professionals to consider psychological well-being when treating the physical symptoms of a condition and vice versa.
How mental health affects physical health
There are various ways in which poor mental health has been shown to be detrimental to physical health.
People with the highest levels of self-rated distress (compared to lowest rates of distress) were 32% more likely to have died from cancer.1,2 Depression has been found to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
These lifestyle factors can influence the state of both your physical and mental health.
Physical activity in any form is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as improving your mental wellbeing. Research shows that doing exercise influences the release and uptake of feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Physical activity means any movement of your body that uses your muscles and expends energy. From tending your garden to running a marathon, even gentle forms of exercise can significantly improve your quality of life.
Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The food we eat can influence the development, management and prevention of numerous mental health conditions including depression and Alzheimer's.