In these articles, we regularly discuss the physical benefits of exercise and I think it's about time we discussed the mental health benefits as well.
With an ever-increasing rate of people experiencing a variety of mental health conditions, it’s timely to consider all the ‘treatment’ options available.
Anecdotally we understand that exercise can make people happier and more productive but understanding the reasons WHY can assist you to become more active and reinforce the benefits of exercise, not only for your body but also for your mind.
A lack of exercise can be a cause and a symptom of less than adequate mental health, meaning that people who are sedentary are at higher risk of developing mental health conditions.
We also know that some mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can lead people to become less physically active. What this demonstrates is the definite link between exercise and mental health and highlights the importance of discussing the benefits of exercise on your mental health.
Pinpointing exactly what it is about exercise that benefits a person’s mental health is difficult as it varies from person to person due to individual differences and personal circumstances, but research suggests that exercise assists by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain involved in the regulation of mood. The increase of endorphins – or the ‘mood lifting’ hormone due to exercise is also another example of the benefits of exercise.
The following dot points explore some of the other mental health advantages that regular exercise can provide.
By developing a healthy coping strategy (exercising) – instead of other less helpful strategies such as binge-watching Netflix, using alcohol, or ruminating on your day-to-day problems that can lead to worsening of mental health symptoms - you can improve your mental state and have an increased resilience for life stressors.
So the next time you're feeling a little low in mood or flat, try chucking on a pair of runners and get a sweat going - the only workout you'll ever regret is the one you don't do!
- Cory Hearn Personal Training and Rob Pearce, RCP counselling