Did you know that exercise can improve your mental health? Alleviate symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal and can even improve your cognitive function – clearing that foggy mind and making way for a fresher you.
Poor mental health including anxiety and depression have been on the rise, especially since the pandemic struck. The GOV website shows that 1 in 5 adults reported having some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic, which had almost doubled from the 1 in 10 figures reported before the pandemic.
People were isolated, working from home, not allowed out, made to feel vulnerable and perhaps for the first time in their lives were scared, before now they had never questioned their mental health, and this made people worried about what the future held for them poor mental health can be triggered by several factors one of which is the fear of the unknown. With the pandemic looming over our heads with no real end in sight, it is completely understandable that the mental health and overall wellbeing of normally ‘well’ people took its toll.
So how can exercise help?
When we exercise, we release chemicals one of which is called endorphins which interact with the receptors in our brains triggering a happy feeling.
Fun fact - The word endorphin is an abbreviation of the word ‘endogenous morphine’ because the effects of endorphin are like those of the opioid morphine, except endorphins provide a natural high. - So, no wonder why so many people resorted to online classes, purchased home gym equipment, and were caught hula-hooping and skipping in their gardens.
Exercising really has taken the nation by storm this last year – with the likes of Joe Wicks, and Get fit with Rick all promoting a variety of in-home activities making your workout accessible, convenient and enjoyable and all improving your mental health and overall wellbeing.
The best Exercises for improving mental health
- Running or walking
- Spin classes
- Resistance training
You can find more out about why these types of exercise improve your mental wellbeing by visiting The Net Doctor.
Things to remember when picking your exercise
- Choose an exercise that you enjoy – this will help you to stay focused and will provide continuity
- Get outside as much as you can – the fresh air will improve your mental wellbeing
- Try something new and keep workouts interesting – explore a new area in your neighbourhood, research local walking routes, chat on the phone with a friend
- Listening to music or a podcast – It doesn’t just relieve boredom, but it will improve the quality of your workout by enhancing your stamina and putting you in a better mood, making you want to continue working out. By focusing on the music or podcast, you are not concentrating on how long you have been working out or how long you have left – you are just enjoying being in the moment.
- Exercising amongst nature - by exercising amidst the trees and in the fresh air, you can improve your mental wellbeing. By surrounding yourself with simplistic and natural sources you are putting yourself in a calming environment, lowering cortisol levels and improving your blood pressure.
By taking time out to exercise you can achieve the following:
- Clearer mind
- Relieve stress
- Improve bone and muscle strength
- Increase balance
- Supports healthy growth in children
- Reduces risks of cognitive decline such as dementia
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigour” - Marcu Tullius Cicero
Remember – A good day starts with a good mindset!
SO, MAKE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH A PRIORITY, TAKE TIME OUT, RECONNECT WITH AN OLD EXERCISE YOU LOVE OR HAVE FUN FINDING A NEW ONE!
Have you improved your mental health with exercise? If so, what exercise have you found to be the best? Let us know in the comments below.