The physical benefits are well documented when it comes with the best workouts, from lowering blood pressure to improving our physical appearance, and our risk of certain illnesses. The spotlight is constantly focused on the mental health benefits of working out, such as raising the mood, enhancing sleep, and relieving stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Science is backing this up. If we increase our level of activity from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week, it reduces the risk of depression by as much as 30%. Another study found that people who were engaged in the exercise had 43% fewer days of self-reported ‘poor mental health’ than those who don’t work out, so we can work out our minds as well as our bodies. It doesn’t mean slogging it out at the gym, there’re lots of ways to move your body at home to boost up your mental health.
If you need inspiration to move, the ‘runner’s high’ – the clarity and relaxation that you experience after a session of jogging or sprinting – will do the trick.
According to the Mind Specialist, Rachel Boyd, “Outdoor workouts or eco-therapy can be beneficial and Science suggests that it can actually be as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants”.
In 2007, it was found that 94% of the people said their mental health had benefited from outdoor activities like jogging and running, so avoid the treadmill for better results. As we run we have time to think, evaluate, understand and turn stuff through. It’s amazing to have something so easy to focus on that is having such an impact.
Yoga allows us to build improved mental wellbeing, it incorporates body and mind, but when combined with talk therapy and meditation it works well too.
According to Toni Roberts, a mental health expert yoga therapist, “Yoga is a bit of a mystery, it seems like it’s surface level, but it works deeply,”. ‘Yoga can be a bridge for anyone, particularly people who find it hard or too intimidating to sit down and look at their own minds, to help them understand what they need physically, mentally and emotionally. Continued breathing emphasis takes yogis into the present moment and instigates a parasympathetic response from our nervous systems which is responsible for ‘rest and digestion’ and allowing us to calm down).
Spin studios are more like nightclubs these days, with strobe lighting, tailor-made playlists and even choreographed routines to make fitness enjoyable, taking participants into the present moment so that they can leave their problems behind while they burn off pressure through their pedals.
Hilary Rowland, the founder of the London Boom Loop, is keen to ensure that the emotional and mental health of the participants increases as much as their physical fitness. She is only too conscious about the impact of exercise on the brain. According to Hilary Rowland, “Daily workout stimulates neurogenesis, which is the development of new brain cells, which helps us to better concentrate, to become a quick learner and working out gives us a boost in energy and the more energy we have the more efficient we are.
There are a lot of rumors that hitting a punchbag causes tension and rage are real. Finding an outlet for aggression can be both healing and empowering. Short , fast punching ’rounds’ followed by rest lead to an intense interval session that releases endorphins.
If you’re ‘sparing’ with another fighter, you will create ‘energy’ by concentrating solely on the job at hand/present moment; a condition that champions everyone from Buddhist monks to Olympic athletes.
Pilates ‘mental health benefits frequently get ignored because of Pilates’ conventional emphasis on back health and core energy.
The founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, who believed so strongly in the connection between physical and mental health, originally called his exercise system ‘Contrology,’ that is, the control of the body with the mind,’ says Karen Laing, a Pilates Instructor who had fought anxiety.
Learning Pilates ‘skills and concentrating on technique and how the body feels is a very conscious practice while in a class. Pilates is good for relaxation and stress management and perfect for Alpha styles because there is no competitive factor! Apart from the well-being feelings of moving and mobilizing the body, the emphasis on breathing and relaxation will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system of the body, which is responsible for sleep and relaxation.