Why exercise for mental health?

Lots of people go to the gym for an aesthetic reason, they want to lose weight, they want to get ‘ripped’, they want to look good in a bikini, but did you realise how much exercise benefits your mental health as well as your physical health?

"It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour’ Marcus Tullius Cicero"

Benefits of exercise for mental health

Energy

Exercising improves your mental healthy by giving you more energy for other things in life.

Sleep

Exercise improves mental health by helping us to unwind and sleep better at night, so that we wake up in the morning feeling more energised and recharged.

Social

Exercising in groups is a great way to meet new people. We all know how much talking helps our mental health, so why not incorporate talking and walking?

Escape
Exercise helps to provide a distraction to compartmentalise in a healthy way
Unwind

Exercise for mental health to help yourself unwind and loosen up. Exercise helps to release tension in the body and mind which could worsen stress

Routine

Exercising helps to provides a routine for those who feel purposeless.

Overcoming barriers before using exercise for mental health

At school PE divides the year group into people who like exercise and those who don’t. I was in the latter, but only because I was under 5ft, and never got picked for team sports.  I wanted to be good, but I wasn’t, despite how hard I tried, I was always seemingly in the ‘those who don’t pile. People would say to me, ‘Kayleigh you’re so strong’, ‘you’re so positive, I love your determination’, ‘you certainly tried your hardest’, and all along I didn’t realise that those comments were the clues.

Despite not being ‘the fittest’ physically, I was the ‘fittest’ mentally. By throwing myself into PE, I grew as a person by facing the challenges each class threw at me, with alertness, positivity and readiness. Little did I know that those were the lessons I was being taught in PE, I wasn’t beingprepared for the Olympics, I was being prepared with the mental wellbeing foundations that each of us need, to feel connected to others, to having freedom over our lives and to be able to deal with the ups and downs. Even though I dreaded PE I left feeling positive and balanced.

 

Not everyone is lucky enough to find the good in PE, and for most people, PE is a haunting memory that reminds them of the anxiety they felt being the last one left on the floor in benchball. And although I am sure school sport has developed a lot since I was in attendance, there are probably still children dreading PE this very second.

I think that for more people to enjoy exercise, we need to talk more about the benefits that is has on our mental health, in order to remove the association it has with muscular and often intimidating physiques. And although I’m a huge advocate for competitive sports, I think the backbone for all the physical fitness we do, is our mental wellness. This movement has already started, and lots of GPs now prescribe exercise as a treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Still not sure about exercise for your mental health?

If you are not sure about using exercise for your mental health, join our online community to meet real people finding the good in their grief through movement.

If you are not sure about using exercise for mental health, join our online community to meet real people finding the good in their grief through movement.

If you need some help to figure out what exercise is the best for your mental health, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What else do you want to get out of exercise?
  • Would you like to exercise indoors or outside?,
  • Would you like to exercise as a group or on your own?
  • Is there a way you could incorporate exercise into your home life, by standing up to do the ironing o by doing some gardening?

There is no pressure to go and buy a gym membership to exercise for mental health, this is simply about making time for exercise for mental health. Remember to make it practical for you so that exercise for your mental health doesn’t impede on our quality time with friends and family, and remember to choose the right exercise for you.

Resources for exercise for mental health:

If you are not sure about using exercise for your mental health, join our online community to meet real people finding the good in their grief through movement.

NHS

There are a number of tools online to help you find exercise for mental health, that will suit your strength and flexibility

Good Grief Logo

Good Grief Groups

We host weekly events around Maidenhead, Berkshire about the power of exercise for mental health. Each week a new expert from nutrition, life coaching, personal training, and therapy holds an interactive workshop about different ways you can get this most our of exercise for mental health.