We all know that regular exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know it’s also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that breaking just a little sweat each week can be super beneficial to your overall wellbeing. Being active not only benefits your whole body inside and out, it also helps to relive stress, helps you sleep better, fires up those mood enhancing endorphins and boosts your brain power!
Upping your activity levels can also have a hugely positive impact on lots of different mental health issues including anxiety, ADHD and depression.
What is mental health?
Life has its ups and downs and we can all get a little stressed, down or anxious from time to time. Usually those feelings pass, particularly when we turn to our friends and loved ones for support; sometimes we need a little extra boost to help us out. It’s important that we all take the time to work on the health of our emotional state by finding ways to relax and unwind from the stresses of everyday life, and just like physical health – everyone is different.
What relaxes one person may not relax another, so it’s all about trying different things and finding what works for you! Regardless of your age or fitness level, studies show that making the time for exercise provides some serious mental health benefits to boost your sense of wellbeing, improve your relationships and lead to a happier, healthier life overall. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a weekend dog walker or regular marathon runner, there’s every reason to head out the house and work up a little sweat!
If you work in a stressful job, or just simply find yourself needing a bit of headspace, fitness can improve various elements of your life and how you feel.
When we first hear the words fitness and exercise, you’re probably faced with images of busy gyms and running on the treadmill for what feels like hours. But that’s not necessarily the best way for you
to feel your best, especially if you feel intimidated or lack confidence in the gym. If that all sounds too familiar, let’s look at some fun alternatives for you to try out:
- Get out and about! Studies show that regular exercise that’s as simple as walking, jogging or playing a team sport can make you more alert, improve your concentration and boost your mental sharpness. Doing just a little exercise each week will stimulate your brain and help to release chemicals that aid memory function - get those comfy shoes on, gather up your friends and family or take some time for yourself, and go for a brisk walk this weekend! Enjoy the spectacular views that autumn has to offer to improve your physical and mental health!
- Break the cycle! Exercise helps to divert your attention away from the daily worries that sometimes gets us down. Distracting ourselves for an hour from over-thinking a stressful situation can help us calm down, see the problem from a fresh perspective and give us that ‘lightbulb’ moment! Doing something repetitive such as tennis, badminton, cycling or swimming helps the brain to relax into a much gentler state and gives you a chance to process all the (sometimes overwhelming) information. It’s also great for toning and firming your legs, arms and core muscles! Bonus!
- Show us your moves! Re-live your teens by shutting your bedroom door, putting your favourite music on and start to dance, dance, dance! Not only will you get a super boost of endorphins from the nostalgia and fun, you’ll also be improving your coordination skills, agility, flexibility, muscle strength and the overall condition of your heart and lungs! (Plus, you’ll burn extra calories!)
- Find your zen! Have you ever noticed how your body feels when you’re stressed out? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your upper body as most of us hold tension in our neck and shoulders. Yoga is a great way of relaxing and unwinding while also stretching out those tight muscles to relieve tension. Breathing deeply and slowly can also relieve any tightness in the chest and improve blood circulation to the brain. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better, your mind will too!
There are also a few extra bonuses to fitness that will have a positive effect on your life, such as a chance to meet and make new friends, a sense of achievement from learning a new skill, and the enjoyment of getting out the house and being outdoors.
So, go ahead and get a little sweaty, it’s well worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness and euphoria, so not only will you look good, you’ll feel great! It’s a win-win situation!
Inspired to try a workout right now?
Great! Here are some quick circuit ideas for all abilities!