Regular exercise keeps you fit, reduces the risk of illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure, and can be a great way to socialise.
But there is one big benefit of physical activity that is often overlooked: stress relief. Exercise is great for relieving stress and can help battle anxiety and depression, plus it improves sleep quality.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Exercise For Mental Health
It may seem counter intuitive to put your body through physical stress in order to relieve mental stress.
But physical activity helps protect your mind against illness, just like it does for your body. By pumping more blood into your brain, exercise strengthens nerve cell connections to improve memory and guard against degenerative diseases.
Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes, 5 times per week – positively influences your mental health in many ways:
- Releases serotonin and dopamine, your body’s naturally occurring ‘feel good drugs’
- Helps you sleep better so you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day
- Improves memory and focus
- Gives you a true sense of accomplishment
- Group exercise builds social connections
It’s not always easy to start a routine of exercise for mental health. Especially for people dealing with social anxiety and depression, stepping into a gym can feel like an impossible challenge.
If you need help getting started, talk to one of our staff members. Surge Fitness is a supportive community where everyone is welcome.
Reduce The Stress From A Busy Work Week
In a previous post where we talked about why personal training is good for professionals, we touched on relieving stress as a benefit.
Going to the gym after a difficult day at work might seem like the last thing you want to do. But ask around the office and you’ll find a surprising number of people swear by regular exercise to relieve stress, socialise after work or prepare for a difficult day ahead.
As well as promoting dopamine and serotonin, a sweat session gives you an opportunity to focus on something else for long enough to relieve stress built up in the office.
Many people even find the change of environment and increased blood flow to the brain helps them crack difficult problems, then return to work with a natural energy boost.
Top Tips For Relieving Stress With Exercise
So how do you take advantage of exercise for mental health? Here’s a few things to try:
- Start slow: Especially if you are dealing with depression and anxiety, it’s important to build up gradually and not overdo it.
- Keep at it: Some benefits will be immediate. Others, like increased self-esteem and expanded social horizons, will take time.
- Listen to music: Listening to your favourite jams while exercising is a great mood booster. You can also try and audiobook or podcast if that’s your thing.
- Breathe deeply: Not only will breathing exercises improve your workout, they are a proven stress relief technique.
- Set small goals: Unachievable targets will only add to existing stress. Work with a PT to set manageable targets that make you feel great.
- Mix it up: Try a group fitness class like yoga for relaxation, or Body Attack when you need to really work the frustration out.
How To Get Started
Ready to reap the benefits of exercise for mental health?
When you join Surge Fitness this month you’ll get 3 free PT sessions to create a personalised exercise routine that relieves stress and builds fitness, both physical and mental.