We all know exercise is good for us. However, life can sometimes overtake our want and need to exercise and it can be tricky fitting everything in. We’re pretty sure you’re all aware of the physical benefits of exercise in relation to cardiovascular health and muscle tone/strength. However, what about the impact on your mental health and the positive effect exercise, fitness and sport can have on our general wellbeing?
Depression and anxiety
This is a mood disorder and will be apparent in most people at some point in their life with a wide variety of triggers – In fact, research shows that 1 in 10 people will experience some form of depression. It can have a huge impact on our daily life and affects the way we feel, think and behave, causing feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Some people manage to function normally, whilst masking their true feelings whilst others can’t even face getting out of bed in the morning.
Everyone will have experienced some form of anxiety, whether that’s a fear of starting a new job or more severe cases whereby they don’t feel they[
]can leave the house. Some find it harder to control their worries and the feelings are extremely intense. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including: Generalised anxiety, phobias, PTSD and panic disorders, to name but a few. It’s estimated that around 5% of the population is affected in one way or another by an anxiety disorder.
As mentioned previously, everyone will experience these two disorders to some degree at some point. However, you will know in yourself if you are suffering more than you should be and of course, your doctor should be your first port of call in this instance. This is all well and good, because when you’re feeling low, it’s hard to gather the strength and motivation to even get out of bed sometimes, let alone talking to someone else about your troubles. It takes great courage.
What we’d like to talk about is the positive impact exercise can have on these mental states. The last thing you may want to do is exercise, but if you can muster that initial strength from within, it can have such a positive and lasting impact on your overall state of mind, so it’s certainly worth understanding the basics.
How exercise can help?
Release of endorphins
Exercise enables your body to release chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain reducing your perception of ‘pain’. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body and therefore promote a feeling of well-being. Essentially, this is the feeling of wellbeing during and after you exercise.
Our lives are busier than ever and we tend to feel like we’re always charging around, working, looking after kids, shopping, cooking, washing etc. etc. Exercise gives you the chance to be you. It enables you to switch off from life and think about absolutely nothing for a change. Exercise can take on many forms, you could go for a dog walk, a run or a swim or visit your local gym or fitness class. It gives you the opportunity of clearing your mind. We’ve all experienced the feeling of not wanting to exercise just before we start, but once you’re there and once you’ve finished you’ll thank yourself for making the effort.
Increasing your confidence
If you’re new to exercise and you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression, your confidence levels may be low. Confidence in your ability but also body confidence. However, setting small goals which you can achieve after a short time (which you will) can result in a huge boost in confidence and morale. A healthy body contributes massively to a healthy mind and so getting in shape via exercise and a healthy diet can work wonders for your overall mental state.
Exercise and/or sport is a great way of meeting people. Some will choose to exercise in isolation, but group fitness classes are an excellent way to meet new people and feel part of something. This can of course be daunting at the beginning, but you could consider bringing a friend for moral support and our classes, for example, are full of friendly, like-minded people. If you don’t know what to expect, hop on over to our Facebook feed and you will see some of the classes in action. You can also come and talk with us privately first so we can suggest classes which will be suitable for your needs and level.
There’s no better boost than feeling like you’re helping yourself. Doing something to manage your condition and symptoms is a healthy coping strategy. You can work at your fitness with the support of others and feel like you’re doing something extremely positive – which you are. And don’t expect immediate results. You will feel better the first time you exercise due to the release of endorphins. It will take time and effort, but if you slowly plug away you will not only improve your overall physical health, but also your mental health.
If your condition is severe, it may be that you require additional help in the form of therapies or medication, but studies have shown that exercise alone can help to manage symptoms. Find what you enjoy, find what makes you tick – You may not discover this immediately, but if you can, try different types of exercise or different classes and you will then fall into a rhythm. Think about the long-term not just the short game. Even 10 minutes per day can have positive effects and so just think if you managed three or four 45-minute classes a week, the impact this could have.
If you’d like to talk to us about the classes we offer or book into a class, contact us now on 07707 891824 or email gravityfitnesslive.co.uk