Exercise: Fit For Mental Health

This blog has been written by Aimee Kingsbury, friend and member of Unique Results.

We know that physical exercise can be used to really improve the body’s physical health, but did you know that the impact on mental health could be just as great?

1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health problem at some point in their life. This means that even if it isn’t you, it’s highly likely that you’ll know someone who is. It’s important that people seek the help that they need through professionals such as doctors or therapists – but exercise is something else that you can do to help ease the symptoms for yourself, or for someone else.

Group stretchIn fact it can make real difference in preventing and reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. The chemicals released during exercise as well as the focus needed during that time, work together and ultimately help to lift your mood, increase your sense of purpose and can enable you to take back control of your thoughts. Now, if you suffer with mental health problems you know it isn’t always as easy as just strolling into a gym and committing to a contract – in fact that in itself can trigger unruly bouts of anxiety. The good news is though; it doesn’t need to be like that!

Walking in the fresh air on your own or with a friend, or picking an exercise that you can do at home at least once a day, makes for a good start. When you can build up the courage, finding a gym or somewhere that is smaller and more personal, with trainers that are able to take the time to understand you but still push you and be by your side throughout can really help you reap the benefits of exercise on your mind. There is a quote that reads ‘Exercise is the most potent and under-utilised antidepressant’ I for one have been able to experience the benefits first hand, and I still use exercise as my antidepressant.

It isn’t always easy to find that ‘get up and go’ when you feel more like its ‘got up and gone without you’ but here are a few tips that have helped me:

1. Be patient with yourself – it takes time.

2. Set goals and plans – realistic and achievable of course

3. Focus on the feeling after each workout – not the aching or rapid breathing! (AlthoughJames & Dave you may come to enjoy this) but the sense of achievement and lifted mood!

4.  Be proud of yourself – regardless of whether it was the best workout you’ve had or not.

And finally 5, ‘You’re only one workout away from a good mood’ – Remind yourself of this cheesy quote when you’re feeling stressed, down, anxious or just a bit fed up… and then go for it.!

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