Imagine not being able to exercise for a month. No runs, gym, weights or classes. You’d feel physically unfit. But – more importantly – you’d probably feel low too.
It’s not an experiment we’d recommend you do! But there’s enough research to prove that regular exercise doesn’t just sort out your muscles and bulges. It also deals with depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and more.
In other words, you’d be crazy not to exercise!
Research consistently shows that exercise eases symptoms of poor mental health such as anxiety and depression. It’s not a cure-all. But it ‘peps you up’ and makes you feel better. And once you’re feeling better, exercise can keep you feeling good.
Exercise releases endorphins that lift your mood and self-esteem. Hussle regularly and you’ll keep your brain topped up with these ‘feel-good’ hormones. It really works. Regular exercise has even been prescribed on the NHS to treat depression.
Find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts? Exercise is also a good way to distract yourself. Kind of like a moving meditation. Plus, the social interaction can help you feel better too.
Moderate-intense exercise is the most effective for beating depression. Something like HIIT, running or squash is ideal. Intense exercise also significantly increases the production of adenosine, the chemical that helps us sleep. A tired body sleeps more deeply, which helps keeps your mood positive.
You don’t have to do it for long. One study showed just 15 minutes running a day reduced depressive symptoms by 26%. However, release of endorphins varies from person to person so you’ll have to figure out your own best level.
The hardest bit is getting started. When you feel low it’s hard to get yourself going. Start with putting your trainers on and going outside. Then either run or head to the gym. Or get on your bike, dance, do a class or walk in the hills. Repeat several times a week!
There are no magic pills to good mental health. Just do things that are good for you – Hussle, good food, sleep well – and you will start to feel better.
Keep yourself positive and you will feel more like working out. It's not all about physical health, if you get low and depressed you won't feel like exercising so keep it all fun.
It's really hard to get yourself to exercise if you feel low so the best advice I could give is to workout as soon as you can in the day, don't think about it, then keep on doing it and it will become a habit you start to miss.
i find that going for a run and choosing not to listen to the voice that is telling me to stop/slow down/go back to bed helps me feel more in control of my mind. I know that I'm in charge, not the voice inside, and ultimately i feel better and proud of myself if I don't give in too easily!
I do find that if I do a tough workout, really making myself gasp for breath etc, then I am more tired and sleep better that night, which makes me feel better, so I think tough workouts are helpful if you can't sleep properly.