Being physically unfit can be extremely taxing on your body. Walking a flight of stairs may feel like climbing a mountain. That short sprint for the bus may feel like you’ve run a marathon. The human body wasn’t designed to sit at a desk all day or to be laying watching television for hours. If a sedentary lifestyle has taken grip, the body can really struggle.
However, what is often overlooked are the positive effects that a healthy lifestyle can have on your mental health. As a personal trainer, seeing physical changes in a client is great. But nothing beats seeing improvements in their mental well being. Observing the steady improvements in their confidence and mindset is where it gets really rewarding.
So how exactly can exercise help with your mental health?
Stress busting: Any form of exercise releases endorphins and this is great for releasing stress that has built up throughout the day. Endorphins are the hormones that make you feel great. That warm fuzzy feeling when you see the person you love? That’s the endorphins kicking in. When released into your bloodstream you get a feeling of euphoria. A clear link between unhealthy lifestyle factors and depression is one that has been researched thoroughly and the benefits of an active lifestyle and healthy diet are evident.
Anxiety: Many studies have explored the link between anxiety and exercise, and a clear benefit was found. Inactivity may or may not be the cause of your anxiety, but it certainly can help manage it.
Sleep and relaxation: If you struggle with winding down for bed, go for a brisk walk or light jog. It has been found that a moderate exercise session can decrease the time it takes for you to fall asleep and also allows you to sleep longer. It is thought that exercise can go some way in helping cure chronic insomnia.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Other benefits include an improved immune system, enhanced self-esteem and a better memory. Engaging in regular exercise can make you feel fantastic and as you can tell, we heartily recommend it. So find an activity you enjoy, stick to it and reap the rewards that it brings both physically and mentally.
- Zhai L, Zhang Y & Zhang D (2014), Sedentary behaviour and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015 Jun;49(11):705-9
- Petruzzello, S.J., Landers, D.M., Hatfield, B.D., Kubitz, K.A. & Salazar, W. (1991)
A meta-analysis on the anxiety- reducing effects of acute and chronic exercise. Outcomes and Mechanisms, Sports Medicine 11 (3): 143-182.
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