Mental Health Day 2021
Exercise is good for the body, we all know that, but did you know that exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health?
Regular exercise can have a hugely positive impact on depression, anxiety, stress and more. It also improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better. Here in the UK the recommendation for physical activity per week is between 75 and 150 minutes, which works out at about 22 minutes a day, if you take the larger number and aim to do something every day (I’ve rounded up!).
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull on your Lyra and bust some moves out to a HiiT routine (though you’d be very welcome at my classes if you do want to do that!) It can mean moderate walking, hiking, cycling, being unfit should not be a barrier to getting moving.
‘It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigour.’ Marcus Tullius Cicero
What are the mental health benefits of exercise?
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Yes, improving those things and others, are important, especially the latter for women of a certain age, but even more important, people who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
In short exercise has a positive impact on our mood, our stress levels, our self-esteem, depression, and anxiety and can improve dementia and cognitive decline in older people! All great reasons to start to move more!
Obviously, I’m biased, moving is something I do for a living. Let’s hear what some of my lovely class participants have to say!
‘Exercise and mental health I have definitely experienced both opposite ends of the scale!
I have been at a point when I have been consciously aware of how much of a positive impact fitness was having on my mental health. Huge boosts in mood from the endorphins that’s for sure then comes the improved self-confidence and self-esteem, my own well-being and sense of achievement. You can literally feel it all! It’s almost euphoric at times!
I can also say I have experienced the impact on my mental health of not doing exercise. At a time when I know it would help me I couldn’t/wouldn’t engage in it at all. The downward spiral of mood from giving up the “natural high” of those endorphins was something else. After hitting my rock bottom I’m now getting back up…. slowly! I have started small and it’s already making a difference. Whether it’s inside at a class or outside in the fresh air I guarantee that I will feel good when I’ve done something! Especially when I really don’t feel like it! One step at a time!’
‘I find exercise REALLY helps my mental health. It gives me the endorphins to wake me up, helps me to clear my mind and think clearly and it gives me the confidence both mentally and physically to feel stronger inwardly and much more positive. I think it is a huge help for mental health. Thank you so much for all your help and huge efforts to ensure our classes go ahead and are so varied and enjoyable and rewarding every week. Thank you so much Debbie.’
‘Sadly, mental health issues are affecting a lot of people, even more so after one or two hard lockdowns. Personally, I have been there a little myself and one especially important thing that will always keep me going is EXERCISE! It changes your whole mind set once you have stopped that voice in your head saying, ‘oh I can’t be bothered’ or ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ I love HiiT workouts, Clubbercise and running. The difference I feel after is amazing, my mind is more positive and clearer and I feel stronger.’
Inspired? You should be!! What will you choose to do for your 150 hours a week?