Many of us, young and old, are guilty of relating exercise just to the idea of how we look physically. In actual fact, having a regular exercise routine will provide you with a boost in energy, better sleep and much needed mental clarity. When you really step back and think about it, those are the things we want to focus on and having the ‘perfect body’ (is there even such a thing?) should not be at the top of your list of reasons to work out. Let’s dive a little deeper into how regular exercise can help your mental health.
Depression & Anxiety
There are endless studies out there now that show working out is like a form of therapy for those with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. There are even qualified therapists now that strongly recommend to include exercise in your everyday life to improve your wellbeing. You don’t even have to do a strenuous workout to reap the benefits, even by taking a step outside and getting your body moving for 30 minutes on a walk will increase the serotonin in your body which is a feel-good hormone.
You may not feel depressed or anxious but that does not mean you have not felt a little down or low in mood. We all have those days where something just does not feel right and everything is going wrong. Little things can build up over the day, or even over the course of 5 minutes, which cause you to feel down and out. Luckily for all of us, it only takes 5 minutes of aerobic exercise to feel the mood-elevation effects of working out! Next time you are feeling this way get yourself outside and see if it helps you to feel better, we promise it will help!
Better sleep = better you
You’d probably be lying to yourself you said you were in a better mood with less sleep than with more. With the amount of technology in our lives these days and the high-paced world we live in, sleep health is suffering. Luckily, exercising helps you sleep better as well! Some studies even suggest exercising improves the sleep of those who are suffering from chronic insomnia!
Our self-esteem can affect more than we realise. It changes the way we look at ourselves, our day and the energy we put out into the universe. How does exercise help your self-esteem if not in a physical way? Well, by sticking to a schedule and ‘achieving’ a workout every single day you end up with the feeling of accomplishment and being proud of yourself. Even reaching workout milestones like lifting heavier, running a little faster or feeling sore after a session can give you the boost of self-esteem and confidence you need to put your best self forward!
Overexercising is bad!
One thing we want to ensure gets across in all of the above health benefits is that you do not need to vigorously exercise all of the time and you don’t need to exercise excessively to reap all of the results and benefits. When you start exercising and feeling great, you can fall into the trap of overexercising which unfortunately will end up having the opposite effect of all of the benefits mentioned. When your body is overworked, you will underperform not only in the gym but in other areas of your life such as your work. This is because your body is tired, recovering slower and might also have a weakened immune system.
Please do not go from absolutely no exercise to thinking you have to do hours and hours every day, just focus on doing something to get moving as often as you can. Remember to incorporate self-care and listen to your body because if you are honest with yourself then you’ll know when it’s time to slow it down a little or have a break and you do not have to feel bad for that!
Keep exercise simple, focus on the benefits in a healthy and maintainable way, give yourself small and attainable goals and allow active rest days where you might just want to go for a slow walk or a stretch. Work on a routine that builds the mentally strongest and healthiest you – the physical results will follow.