Being active is great for your physical health and fitness
Being active is great for your physical health and fitness, and evidence shows that it can also improve your mental wellbeing.
We think that the mind and body are separate. But what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you. It means being able to get on with life in the way you want.
Evidence shows that there is a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing.
Find physical activities that you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life whether that be going to the gym, walking, dancing or taking the kids to the park.
Scientists think that physical activity helps maintain and improve wellbeing in a number of ways.
Excercise and depression.
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.
Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins; powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
Exercise and anxiety
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.
Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.
Exercise and stress
Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomach-ache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.
Try our Christmas exercises in the gym to help improve your wellbeing and banish the stresses of the festive season.