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The voice of the student.

The Wave

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How Does Physical Health Impact A Student’s Mental Health?

Jane Watt
Marco Island Academy students playing in a varsity girl’s soccer game.

For anyone and everyone, physical health plays a major role in their mental health. This is especially true for students who are constantly under extreme pressure academically as well as athletically. An unhealthy lifestyle can often be reflected in a person’s mental health.

Physical health can be defined by someone’s overall lifestyle choices. Physical health can depend on how often a person exercises, their daily diet, and how regularly they attend regular doctor appointments and checkups. Thinking about all of the mental health issues that are present among students, I became curious about how much students’ physical health impacted their mental health and whether or not they felt it affected them at all.

It’s no surprise that exercising regularly is great for mental health and stress considering the extensive scientific research has been done concerning mental health. One study done by the National Library of Medicine found that when exercising, our bodies produce more opioids and endocannabinoids, which are two chemicals that are connected to pleasure and pain sensitivity. They also found that regular physical activity can increase focus, attention, and decision-making, which are all contributing factors to a person’s mental state and therefore their mental health. 

With this research in mind, I worked to gain insight into how physical activity impacts the mental health of our students at Marco Island Academy. One MIA student and athlete, Mathis Fontes, described the effects of regular physical activity on his mental health by stating, “Exercising the amount that I do in sports helps me to destress at the end of a long school day. It helps me to decompress and to work through any issues I might be having mentally.” This mindset appears to be shared among many student-athletes.

A consistently healthy diet also has been found to have drastic effects on mental health. Many of the processed foods we eat are major contributors to some of the mental disorders that are detrimental to health. These foods can lead to inflammation within the body which causes disorders such as ADHD or anxiety. 

Another study conducted by the National Library of Medicine known as A Prospective Study of Diet Quality and Mental Health in Adolescents evaluates the direct impact of certain diets on individuals. This study found that “…over 10,000 university students over 4.4 years of follow-up, found that students who most closely adhered to a Mediterranean dietary pattern had a 42% reduced risk of developing depression.” 

Some of our very own students at MIA have similar ideas about diet. Isabella Kakaty, an MIA senior, recently began eating a strict clean diet that includes solely whole foods. She has expressed, “I feel that when I switched from eating processed foods to whole foods, my brain fog decreased, I had more energy, and I didn’t have sugar crashes“.

There is no doubt that physical health impacts mental health, especially in our student body. As represented by the research and student insight, mental health appears to be a direct result of a person’s daily habits and overall lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are linked to decreased mental health disorders and an overall happier, healthier life. 

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About the Contributor
Kacie Swanson
Kacie Swanson, Staff Writer
Kacie Swanson is a junior at Marco Island Academy and is a Staff Writer for The Wave. In her free time she enjoys going to the beach and spending most of her money at Starbucks. She loves Taylor Swift and Zach Bryan and spends 99% of her time listening to them. After high school, she plans on attending a college in Florida and later going on to nursing school.
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