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How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?

There are many mental health advantages of exercise. Not only can it reduce anxiety and depression, exercise also releases chemical substances such as endorphins and serotonin which improve your mood.

Studies show that it can reduce feelings of depression or isolation and help in the recovery of other mental health problems. After the last 2yrs we have had with the various lockdowns, its tougher than ever for some people to take that step and leave their home to join a group activity, but it’s so rewarding to do so and here‘s why.

Below are five ways that exercise & physical activity improves mental health:

1. Being A Mood Booster.

Exercise is a mood booster that reduces both depression and anxiety symptoms. Physical activity increases endorphin levels, that powerful "feel good" chemical that produces a feeling of joy and euphoria in the body. That's the reason why some people like to perform exercise when they feel stressed. Tough day at work? Get yourself down the park and you will feel so much better!

2. Decreasing Stress

Physical activity, such as outdoor group exercise😉, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system's function that increases the overall capacity of the body to respond to stress. As mentioned above, exercise produces endorphins (natural painkillers of the body) that reduce stress naturally. Exercise also improves our sleep, which consequently reduces stress.

Meditation, massage therapy, deep breathing and acupuncture are other forms of physical activity with similar benefits.

3. Increasing Self-Esteem And Self-Confidence

Doing physical activities will lead to a whopping increase of self-esteem —and self-confidence along with it! Weight loss or body toning from these activities may allow you to get better-fitting clothes, a slimmer physique or the opportunity to climb a hill without Becoming out of breath.

Being able to strengthen the body as well as the mind is one of the many advantages of physical exercise and a useful way to approach exercise is to set goals. When someone performs exercise they will have an underlying end goal; it may be to lose weight, be more active, reduce stress or any other fitness goal. Completing the goal leads to a feeling of accomplishment and leads to a confidence boost. On our 6-week KICKSTARTER course the first thing we do is to encourage everyone to write down ‘why’ they have decided to get fit & healthy. This reason is the thing you need to refer back to when things are tough as it will an incredible motivator to keep you going

Studies show that a physically fit person is more confident than someone who has not achieved their desired fitness level.

4. Improving Sleep

If you have trouble having a good night's sleep, then exercise can help. Physical activity raises the body's temperature and can have relaxing effects on the mind, resulting in better sleep.

Sleep gives your body time to recover, conserve energy, and repair and build up the muscles worked during exercise. When we get enough good quality sleep, the body produces growth hormone. During childhood and adolescence, this growth hormone makes us grow and when we are older, it helps us build lean muscle and helps our body repair after a hard workout.

A recent study found that people who completed some light exercise 3-4 times a week for 6 weeks increased their sleep by over an hour every night! Just imagine that…… 😀

5. Forming New Brain Cells

Studies show that aerobic exercise helps generate new brain cells —a process called neurogenesis —and improves overall brain efficiency.

Physical activity has been identified as a protective factor in studies that examined risk factors for dementia and for people who have already developed the disease, physical activity can help to delay further decline in functioning. Studies show that there is approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity

It's fairly clear to see that moderate physical activity is beneficial for us all. Health specialists recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Some suggest that walking is best among all exercises as it is suitable for all age groups. However, you can choose other workouts that work better for your needs and interests. It may take some time to find the right exercise for you, but it will be worth it for your mental health once you do

At Get Fit Today, we are here for you with our popular outdoor group fitness classes, personal training and online nutrition coaching. We have you covered - get in touch 👍

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