Health and Fitness
January 25th, 2021 ATT10TIVE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE The benefits of health and fitness for mental health!
Everyone knows the general benefits of eating healthy and keeping fit but many do not know the positive impact it has on our mental health. Many people suffer from a range of issues such as depression, anxiety, bad eating habits and insecurities just to name a few.
Can you relate?
From my experience, growing up for a very long period of my life I was suffering in silence and not in a good mental state. One day I had enough and decided I had to do something about it, I wouldn’t take advice from family in regards to fitness but one day just for myself I gave it a go. This began a long journey for me. When I started my fitness journey, I was anxious, however I started to enjoy it. The gym is a place where you can socialize on a daily basis, which can help your self-esteem and confidence. When you find your feet with a routine that suits you, you might also notice that you’ll start to focus on healthier food. This of course does not happen overnight, this would help lead to a healthy lifestyle.
Eating healthier has a profound effect on your mental health; it will make you feel more proactive with enhanced concentration and improves your overall mood.
“I’ve always found that exercise is the one thing that gets me well again, with depression, it’s invaluable. It makes me feel great, just healthy and active. I don’t feel as tired or lethargic when I exercise and it makes me happy and content in myself. (Mind.org.uk)
Research has shown that the benefits of exercising improves brain performance, people who exercise are sick less often, it increases productivity, enables you to sleep better, and boosts self-confidence.
For me the main benefit I have gained from exercising was in my self-confidence. I found that it could help to ease your mind and rejuvenate your body. Working out made me feel great, I became physically stronger and better with coping with my insecurities over time, This was both through physical exercise and a having healthier diet.
Have you ever started doing something you enjoyed and noticed the positive effects?
What about those people that are in a bad place and can’t exercise, sometimes exercising for people who have eating problems or genetic illnesses isn’t always helpful for their mental health.
“Exercise … can seem like [an] impossible challenge when you’re having a tough time.”(Mind.org.uk)
What if I’m feeling unwell or unable to do physical exercise?
Personally, I learned from my own journey that this is the time you should exercise, even if it is moving just your arms or feet, or even if it is minimal, a little something is better than nothing.
If you are in a really bad place, don’t be too hard on yourself or worry about what others think of you. If you cannot exercise it can be easy to start feeling guilty or beat yourself up about it, this can start to contribute to feeling unwell.
“Any type of exercise is useful, along as it suits you and you do enough of it.” (Dr Alan Cohen NHS)
Even a brisk 10-minute walk can clear your mind and help you relax. The government recommends that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. If you have not exercised for a while start gradually and aim to build up towards achieving this.
The easiest way to increase your activity levels is to build activity into the things you do every day, like going to work, shopping and seeing friends.
Tips to build activity into your day
● Cycle to work,school, college or to the shops
● Use public transport if possible, better still walk to your destination
● If you drive, park further away from your stopping place
● Go for a walk or cycle with your friend rather than meeting for coffee
● Exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break
● Gardening provides a good workout
● Focus on heart fitness (Cardio-vascular), flexibility, coordination and balance
● Swimming provides a full body workout
● Try an online workout program
In summary exercising for your mental health has many benefits, it may tire you at the time but in the long-term, it will give you more energy. You may sometimes find that regular exercise makes it easier to complete your everyday activities, like getting up and dressed in the morning. It also improves sleep, which means you get a double-boost to your energy levels. It helps memory, brain function and will reduce stress.
Exercising is also a great time to do some thinking and problem solving. There is support outside such as a dietician or a GP, where you can get help if you are concerned about the effects of exercise on your body or health, you can ask your GP about exercise on prescription. They can help you decide what type of activity would suit you best.
At the end of the day I have found if you make gradual changes and come out of your comfort zone it will have a positive impact on your mental health. If I had not pushed myself to make the changes I have, I would still be in the same mental state as I was years ago.