8 benefits of exercise for your mental health
Here are 8 ‘invisible’ benefits of regular exercise that might end up meaning even more to you than a toned body or rippling glutes:
- More self-confidence
Many of our clients have told us that, before they started to train regularly, they were too self conscious to go into a gym, feeling that gyms were for people who were already fit, or that they felt embarrassed to go for a run in case they felt people were watching them. As they started to take more regular exercise, they began to feel far more comfortable in the gym environment, and also that their walks or runs had purpose, so they cared far less what anyone else thought and felt far more confident. As your fitness journey progresses, the physical progress you make will translate into feeling proud of yourself and more confident in general. You will walk taller with better posture and start to exude self confidence, which in turns makes you feel even more amazing!
- Reduced anxiety
Exercise can help to alleviate feelings of anxiety because it encourages the release of endorphins, sometimes referred to as ‘happy hormones’. In addition, when you exercise you tend to focus on what you are doing, which helps take your mind off whatever it was you felt anxious about. Next time you are about to run a bath or book a massage to help you relax, why not consider a visit to the gym instead?
- Better sleep
When you train, you will be using your muscles and expending energy. Your body needs to recover from this kind of exertion, and it does this while you are asleep. You may start to feel more sleepy a little earlier than usual on days that you train, and you may also find you sleep more soundly through the night.
- Improved cognitive function
As we get older, we tend to find that our brains work less efficiently; we forget more and our short term memory sometimes fails us. Regular exercise (no matter how old we are) helps to support the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that plays a major role in memory and learning. What that means is that people who exercise regularly are more likely to be able to retain new information – and that means they will see improvements in other areas of their lives too such as at work or, for younger people, at school.
- Lower stress levels
You can find many articles and research papers about the positive effects of exercise on stress. Put simply, exercise is recognised by your body as physical stress, so having to recover from it every time you work out helps your body respond better and adapt more efficiently next time. Your body doesn’t know if the stress it feels has been caused by a tough workout or a disastrous week at the office, so learning to recover from exercise stress will also help when dealing with other kinds.
- Stronger relationships
Having a workout buddy or training partner has more benefits than you might think. Firstly, scheduling time to train with someone else means you are less likely to cancel, as you run the risk of letting them down or having them think you aren’t reliable. Making exercise into a more social event makes it enjoyable, which means you are more likely to stick to it for longer. For those who enjoy team sports or who join a club in which everyone has similar exercise interests , you can begin to feel part of a community, which is well documented as having a hugely positive effect on mental health. Involving others in your fitness goals can also mean that you are more likely to reach them, as you’ll have support from a variety of friends or colleagues.
- More energy
The phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person” suggests that those who are active are more likely to get any task done – and it’s true! People who are sedentary tend to feel less inclined to get up and seize the day, but those who exercise are far more likely to tick off the things on their to-do lists because they are full of beans (from the endorphins mentioned above in point 2 and from their improved sleep – see point 3). More scientifically, when we exercise we increase our blood flow, which means more oxygen and nutrients are transported to our muscles, so we feel more alert and more productive.
As well as making us feel happy, endorphins also act as natural pain relief so, in addition to helping reduce inflammation and improve mobility, exercise can benefit those suffering from chronic pain. If you choose to exercise outdoors, you also get the benefits of vitamin D from the sunlight, improved sleep (from a healthy circadian rhythm) and the general uplifting feeling that comes from being outside in nature.
At ATP Personal Training we promote a truly holistic approach focusing on more than just a physical transformation. We look closely at your personalised D.N.A.™.; Daily Routine, Nutrition and Activity. We will support you at the gym of course, better than anyone, but we know that what makes any transformation most sustainable is how you feel on the inside.
Many of our clients come for a physical change and leave with something even better; an improved mindset, more positive self-talk and more confidence than ever before. Click the link below to contact us today for an initial consultation and see what we can help you achieve.