How does exercise help your mental health?

It’s Mental Health Awareness week this week. We thought we would take a look at how exercise can impact positively on mental health. As well as, how to implement an effective routine that could make a real difference to how you feel.

Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve mental health, but sometimes it can feel like a struggle to get started. Reports show that one in four of us has joined a gym with de-stressing and relaxing as our main priority.

Regular exercisers report a sense of wellbeing, higher energy levels and a feeling of positivity about themselves and their lives. Studies have shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication, as it promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation and produces feel-good endorphins.

Tips for implementing an effective routine

If you are looking for an exercise routine that helps to reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory, helps you to sleep better and boost your overall mood then the following tips will help to start you off in the right direction:

• Start slowly – you can begin with something as simple as a short walk. Just getting out in the fresh air has been proven to be an effective mood booster. Research has shown that low intensity aerobic activity is one of the best forms of exercise for encouraging positive thoughts.

• Choosing the right kind of exercise is key. Whether you prefer a class, a team sport, swimming or listening to music in the gym, if it’s something you enjoy then you are much more likely to make it a regular routine.

• Try Yoga. The gentle, stretching movements of Yoga are very soothing and promote mindfulness and a focus on breathing, which can be incredibly therapeutic.

• Dance! Dancing to music is a proven way to boost mood. Furthermore, a dance class can be a great way to create a sense of community and meet like-minded people.

• Enlist the help of an expert. If you aren’t sure what kind of exercise you enjoy or just need a helping hand to create a routine, a few sessions with a Personal Trainer who understands your needs can help you to focus on what you want to achieve and can be an encouraging way of seeing progress.  (Speak to any of our helpful PTs in our gyms, you’ll see them wearing JD Gyms uniforms)

The key message is to do what you enjoy. Do not compare yourself with others and make small steps every day to be a happier, healthier you!