Contributed by Ali from Share to Inspire.
We’re all aware of the benefits of exercise for mental health. Yet, it’s a topic I’ve largely steered away from. As this was started as an eating disorder recovery blog, it’s evolved over the years. Now, while upholding the general rules of recovery, I’m also able to share other tips for general health and wellness. But please be mindful. If exercise is a trigger for you, then please exercise caution.
With that being said, I want to introduce Ali and her wonderfully helpful article.
More about Ali.
Ali is the creator of Share to Inspire blog. It’s a place for a daily dose of inspiration and empowerment. She shares her life experiences in finance, personal growth, and lifestyle to inspire fellow women. She is a self-growth enthusiast, and her mission is to bring you inspiration. Visit her blog for more content like this.
How exercise can benefit your mental health.
There are a range of benefits when you exercise for mental health. Regular exercise not only releases endorphins which make us calm and happy but also helps in other ways. It helps to improve our physical appearance due to more toned and stronger muscles. Let’s not forget the boost in self-confidence which in turn can have an effect on our stress levels. On top of that, exercise keeps us in good physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that regular exercise can help to prevent diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers. Poor physical health can be one of the biggest causes of stress. So, by exercising regularly we can help offset this and release other tensions in the body.
Regular exercise can also help with issues such as muscle or joint pain. In turn, we’ll feel more able to take on stressful situations such as exams, deadlines, and big projects. We will be less likely to be worried about our own health or dealing with pain and discomfort.
Interested in other happiness forming habits? Check out this post for the top 10 habits to help build a happy, healthy life.
How to get started with exercise for mental health.
If your routine has been more on the sedentary side than that of the active, don’t panic! You can always start with gentle exercise. It’s enough to help improve your mental health.
If you’re taking up exercising regularly for the first time or haven’t done much for some time, it’s important that you start off slowly and gently in order to make sure that you give your body the time to get used to the increase in activity and gradually improve your strength.
Jumping straight from the sofa to a strenuous exercise routine can actually do more damage than good. So, don’t feel bad if you can only do a little bit of exercise at first – as you continue to practice, you will be able to increase the amount that you do.
Stress and anxiety result in poor performance and can affect our overall health and wellbeing. But yoga can help! Yoga is one of the best exercises which you can do in order to combat feelings of stress and anxiety. It is designed to not only improve fitness levels, and balance, but also clear your mind and help reduce stressful thoughts and feelings.
Taking part in yoga not only allows you to improve your levels of fitness and strength to be healthier overall, but it can also strengthen your mind and help you to feel more at peace with yourself and everything around you. Yoga is also often associated with mindfulness meditation, which can be extremely useful for dealing with stress and anxiety.
Another benefit of yoga is that it is often done socially. Joining a yoga class means reaping the social benefits of meeting new friends and getting support, something which can be incredibly useful for dealing with stress and anxiety.
When you’re feeling stressed out, exercising is probably the last thing on your mind. However, having a lifestyle that is active and participating in some sort of exercise regularly can actually help you to feel calmer and boost your mental health.
Cardiovascular exercise has been proven to have a wide range of health benefits besides weight loss and increased fitness and has been shown in studies to actually reduce the symptoms of depression. Because of this, taking part in regular exercise is an important part of our lifestyle when it comes to dealing with stress.
Other Stress-Busting Exercises to improve your mental health.
If you’ve ever been stressed out and went outside for a while to ‘walk it off’ , you’ve probably found that this approach actually works. Exercise, no matter how gentle, can often be the best thing for our mental health. Walking has been proven to have a number of huge physical and mental health benefits, so if you’re not used to exercising a lot or don’t want to join your local gym, there’s nothing to worry about as simply going for a walk could be enough to help you feel better and clear your thoughts.
If you’ve had a stressful day or something is really getting to you, getting out for a walk can be the best, quick-acting antidepressant. This is especially true if it’s a nice day and you’re getting some sunshine as well, as Vitamin D is absolutely crucial for mental health.
Simply heading for a walk up the road or setting off to your local park to wander around for a while can help to take your mind off whatever is stressing you out, allow you to clear your head, and put things into perspective all of which can help you to manage your stress and deal with your stressors in a calm, collected manner.
This is because walking, which is a simple exercise that most of us can easily do, releases endorphins, which create feelings of increased happiness and euphoria. So, if you’re feeling like stress is taking over, hitting the pavements for ten minutes or taking your dog for a walk can be a quick solution.
Mental health matters.
And by exercising regularly, you can take small steps towards improving your mental health. As mentioned above, there are a lot of benefits. Stress reduction, clearer thoughts, and improving connection to other people.