How can fitness improve your mental health?

How can fitness improve your mental health?

You know the physical benefits of working out. But beyond physicality, how does exercise aid your mind? With anxiety levels at an all-time high during lockdown 3.0, there’s never been a better time to explore the power of fitness and find out all of the benefits exercise can have on your mental health and wellbeing. 

The benefits of exercise for your mental health? 

When your reserves are low, even the prospect of a gentle walk can feel like scaling Everest. However, if you’re able to find the motivation, the advantages are tremendous – and long-lasting. 

By now, you know that exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins. You may also know it creates cortisol, which helps us manage stress.  

Research in 2015 revealed exercise can be as effective as medication and therapy in treating mild to moderate cases of depression.  

In another study, researchers saw the mental benefits of exercise in participants who kept up their fitness programme 12 months after the initial experiment. 

And while cardio tends to be most commonly linked to mental wellbeing, resistance training is equally powerful in unlocking emotional benefits. In fact, several studies have shown aerobic exercise and weight training can have similar effects on reducing symptoms of depression.  

Incredibly, just three workouts a week can lower your risk of being depressed by 30%, according to the Department of Health.  

So, it’s scientifically proven that exercise can improve your mental health and offers many other benefits. Now, let’s hear first-hand how working out has impacted the wellbeing of successful individuals like you. 

First-hand Experience

Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood Works, has been training with FORM for 18 months. He said: “Seeing how much happier and more effective I’m able to be in all facets of my life is a bigger driving factor for me than the physical benefits. How much I can lift doesn’t change my life: how that makes me feel does.” 

Chris Oglesby

Marketing agency founder and managing director Mike Pye, one of our REFORM remote members, also firmly subscribes to this mindset: “At a time when stress can be all-consuming, focussing on my fitness with REFORM has been a game changer.” 

He continues: “The structure and routine have given me something to concentrate on outside of work. The combined benefits of daily workouts, getting outside for a walk and recharging with nutrition have really helped me feel fitter, stronger and more able to deal with this long and cold lockdown.” 

Another customer, Christina, said of our REFORM remote programme: “Thank you so much for pulling this together for us. Without this, I wouldn’t be even slightly motivated to exercise during yet another lockdown – this has kept me motivated and in a good place”. 

What are the benefits of a healthy mind? 

As for the benefits of a healthy mind? As well as reducing anxiety, stress and the risk of depression, robust mental health can improve your sleep, concentration and motivation. 

Feeling mentally positive can boost creativity and make you think more clearly, bringing a sense of calm and inner “zen” into your life. 

When you prioritise your emotional wellbeing, you feel a boost to your self-esteem. This impacts positively on your relationships with yourself and others.  

Giving you a renewed zest for life, a happy mind makes you more energetic, confident and content.  

Investing in your personal growth and wellbeing impacts all areas of your life. When you thrive mentally, you have the capacity to embrace challenges at work, in relationships and in the broader world with resilience and clarity. 

Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It controls every function in your body and is the organ of your mind: so, looking after it properly is the ultimate act of self-care.   

And while good mental health is vital all the time, it’s more critical than ever to focus on your mental wellbeing right now, to help you stay strong and healthy during the challenges of the pandemic. The benefits exercise can provide for mental health is incredible. 

Why you should focus on your fitness during lockdown 3.0 

The pandemic has pushed us all to the limits. Impacting individuals in different ways, we’re variously grappling with work stress, homeschooling, cabin fever, depression, loneliness, loss of income, anxiety, redundancy, weight gain, furlough, strained relationships, unhealthy relationships with alcohol, lack of social interaction – and the list goes on.  

The need for a healthy mind is overwhelming.  

Fortunately, by providing you with a clear focus, fitness can be a vital coping mechanism during challenging times in your life – which has never been more relevant. 

Life can feel monotonous or upside down right now. So ,creating a routine that you can stick to can work wonders for your ability to stay positive.  

In fact, routine can create much-needed structure and a positive level of stress that prevents you from sliding into anxiety or depression 

The saying goes: “you never regret a workout”. But taking this a step further, recognise how you feel mentally after exercising and reflect on the benefits of exercise for your mental health. Setting aside the time to release those endorphins will trigger feelings of happiness that will set you up for a successful day.  

You can’t bottle that feeling to dip into, but you can remember how powerful it feels and use this as your motivation to keep doing it.  

So how can you get moving and start unlocking the benefits of exercise for your mental health? 

How to exercise your way to peak wellbeing 

Weaving fitness into your daily schedule in a manageable way is your first step towards peak wellbeing.  

Whether it’s a morning PE session with the kids, a lunchtime Zoom class or an afternoon walk to blow away the cobwebs, carving out your own fitness programme can equip you with the tools to keep stress and anxiety at bay, or alleviate some of the symptoms. 

Getting a hit of vitamin D from your daily walk not only regulates your mood and reduces your risk of depression, but it also boosts weight loss, strengthens your immune system and fights off disease. 

Exercise shouldn’t feel like a dreaded task on your to-do list. You should enjoy making the time for yourself and be amazed at what your body can do. So, find something you love to do – however small – and commit to it.   

Normalising fitness as part of your daily schedule will rapidly lead to a pay-off in your work, relationships and overall wellbeing.  

Start your fitness journey

While many gyms and fitness programmes focus on the scales, macros and gains, FORM offers more than body transformations. We’re here to partner you in your journey to ultimate wellbeing.  

Cultivating your physical and mental health, we’ll support you to be the best version of yourself; looking and feeling strong enough to tackle anything life throws at you. 

Start your fitness journey by reaching out to our experts today. Sign up to our REFORM Group Training programme and let’s start focusing on YOU. Currently delivered 100% online, we’ll be by your side – supporting you to reach your potential – every step of the way.  Witnessing first-hand the benefits exercise has on your mental health is just around the corner.

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