What can exercise do for our mental health??
With mental health being a huge talking point throughout the pandemic there is no better time for us to touch on how exercise can help you with your mental health, whether you are a regular gym user, or starting fresh we hope to inspire you to work some exercise into your day to feel good!
We all see exercise as a way keep our bodies in shape and maintain our physical health. It is a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes but did you know about the effects it has on our brain and our mental health?
Exercise alone is unlikely prevent or cure mental health conditions because it is influenced by a variety of environmental, lifestyle, hormonal, and genetic factors. Regular exercise is a great tool for reducing the risk of and managing symptoms of conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.
How does Exercise Help improve my mood?
Physical exercise releases ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals like Endorphins. Endorphins help to relieve pain or stress and generally boost happiness. They are a neurotransmitter in our brain that helps us determine how we feel and think about different situations.
Exercising also triggers the release of an important chemical called Serotonin. Serotonin is an important chemical that helps improve our moods, well-being and helps with our sleep/wake cycle.
Serotonin is used in most anti-depressants to boost your mood.
Exercise will also help increase production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which improves feelings of pleasure and happines.so its no wonder exercise can have such a great effect on your mood!
Here are just a handful of the benefits of exercise on our mental health.
- Increase self-esteem.
- Ease the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
- Improve sleep.
- Improve quality of life.
- Increase mental alertness.
- Give you more energy.
- Improve memory function.
- Increase mindfulness. This can provide a useful distraction from the cycle of negative thoughts that accompany depression and anxiety.
How much exercise do I need to do to improve my mental health?
The NHS recommends that adults aged between 19 and 64 should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Alternatively, the 150 minutes can be reduced to 75 minutes of vigorous activity, which covers jogging/running, football and fast swimming to name a few.
The NHS also provide unique guidelines for early childhood, young people and older adults aged 65 and over.
Chances are you might not feel like you have the energy to start regular exercise, that is totally normal! Here are some little pointers to help you on your way…
Take a look at your everyday tasks, are you doing the school run? Why not walk it instead? When out and about at the shops take the stairs instead of the lift. These activities will all add up and give you that boost and confidence you needed to get active.
What exercise can I do to benefit?
To put it simply, any physical activity is going to help release those feel good hormones but the best results are going to come from aerobic and strength exercises, aerobic and strength exercises are often considered most effective due to the focus on deep breathing, concentration and conditioning that benefit both our physical and mental health.
Many people have taken to walking over the last year, as its one of the only things we have been able to do to keep active. This not only helps get your exercise but being outdoors can give you a great boost of Serotonin. You can walk with a friend or simply zone out with your favourite playlist!
- Resistance training
And most importantly…
If you haven’t been feeling yourself lately or are concerned about your mental health please make sure you talk to a family member or a friend about how you’re feeling. There are also a lot of amazing charities out there that are just a phone call away. You are not alone.
Here are a few links to help you.