Why exercise does wonders for your mental health
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this month (Monday 15th - Sunday 21st May), and at Oak Tree Leisure Centre we want to help spread awareness of the amazing benefits of exercise on mental health.
We all know that fitness is great for improving your physical health and increasing your strength, but it has incredibly positive effects on mental health as well. Exercising regularly can help manage anxiety and depression as well as helping you to sleep better, get social and boost your self-esteem.
Read on to learn more about how exercising can benefit your mental wellbeing, whether that be in the gym, a workout class or at home!
Exercise releases feel-good hormones
When you work out it releases feel-good hormones produced by the brain and spinal cord that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy. This is why people often describe a sense of euphoria after completing a workout.
As a result, working out regularly can help relieve mild and moderate depression, as well as helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
With that in mind, we want to encourage the value of exercise on our overall wellbeing, rather than it being something that we “have to” do or “should” do. This doesn't have to mean running marathons or long workouts every day. It can take just five minutes of cardiovascular exercise, to help you feel happier!
Exercise can improve your sleep
People who exercise regularly are more likely to sleep better and feel less tired during the day. This is because physical activity improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnoea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
Incorporating exercise into your weekly routine will help you to feel more tired at the end of the day, meaning you’ll nod off easier and be more likely to wake up feeling refreshed.
Plus, better sleep means more energy and it’s easier to exercise when you have energy!
Helps you connect with like-minded people
Feeling lonely or isolated can have a negative effect on our mental health but regular gym sessions or workout classes are a great way of keeping routine and structure to your day, as well as getting you out there meeting new people. That’s because you’ll interact with people who love to work out and are committed to a healthy lifestyle, just like you.
Walking into the gym might feel a bit daunting at first, but remember, we’ve all been here before! Our friendly staff are there to help, so use this as a tool to help you build your confidence – there’s no such thing as a silly question if it’s going to keep yourself and others safe!
Need more first-timer tips? Read our handy guide to help with your first time at the gym.
Exercise can help boost self-esteem
Being more active can make you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals.
It can be difficult to set fitness goals when you’re lacking motivation or your mental health is suffering, but setting shorter-term, more achievable objectives can be an excellent way to get yourself back into it.
Whether that’s a 30-minute gym session, trying out a different workout class or going for a 15-minute walk, setting small goals will not only prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, but also give you achievements to celebrate. And hitting your goals will help you to feel good about yourself and increase your self-esteem!
Working out helps you to manage anxiety
Getting physically active gives your brain something to focus on which can be a positive coping strategy for when you are feeling anxious. Working out releases cortisol which helps us manage stress and anxiety, as well as increasing those feel-good endorphins!
Whether you choose to hit the gym in the morning, go for a walk on your lunch break or workout in the evening, it can bring great improvement to your mood.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support
While many people find physical activity helpful, not everyone does. If you are struggling with your mental health, please don’t suffer in silence. Speak to someone you trust such as a friend, family member or a doctor.
If you’d like to take that first step in keeping active, speak to a member of our team on your next visit, or check out our memberships page to see what suits you and JOIN TODAY.
We also have a fantastic range of workout classes for you to enjoy and to help you reach your fitness goals – view our Timetables page.