The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health
We all know that exercise and physical activity is good for the body. But it is also one of the most effective ways to help improve your mental health. Exercise isn’t just about improving your fitness and muscle size but by increasing your exercise time it can improve your self confidence, self esteem, sex life and can even add years to your life expectancy.
People who exercise regularly often do so as it gives them a great sense of well-being. This can help them to have more energy, sleep better, have sharper memory and cognitive function and feel more positive and relaxed about their lives.
Studies have shown that exercise can help to treat some mental health challenges including, but not limited to:
The mental benefits of doing aerobic exercise have got a neurochemical basis. Exercise helps to reduce the levels of the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators, known as endorphins. Have you ever thought about how much better you feel when you have done some exercise?
You may think that in order to reap the benefits you need to be exercising for hours each day. Well the good news it that you don’t need to do as much as you might think in order to benefit from it. You can get all the physical and mental benefits from exercise with just 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week. Even just a little bit of physical activity is better than nothing. You can refer to my previous blog about how to incorporate ‘moving more’ into your day in many different ways to get you started.
As exercise then becomes a habit, you can add different activities or increase the frequency and intensity of your sessions. If you are dedicated and keep at it, the benefits both physically and mentally are certain to pay off.
Often when you have poor mental health, there are a number of barriers you may feel are stopping you, such as:
· Feeling exhausted
· Feeling overwhelmed
· Feeling self conscious about yourself
· Feeling pain – e.g. a disability or injury
· Feeling hopeless
Do not allow these barriers stop you or define you.
It’s ok to start small!
Just make sure you start!
Try to schedule your exercise time for the time of day when your energy levels are at their highest. Focus on the types of activities that you enjoy! This could be a walk in the park, a bike ride with the kids or even a boxing session with your partner to relieve some tension!
Start small, make it fun and stick at it.