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Exercise for the mind, body and soul

Everyone always talks about the health benefits to your body from exercise: reduce high blood pressure, improve circulation, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, reduced risks of type II diabetes, improved joint and bone health, weight management to name but a few. WELL has anyone ever told you that exercise has a big effect on your mental health too?

Your mind and body are linked so closely together. We've all been there: rainy cold weather, just got home from a hard days work...that run is not looking the most appealing. The motivation to exercise is wavering. If your mind is not in it then its so much harder to push yourself to reach your exercise goals. The same principle applies if you are stressed, anxious, depressed or just generally feeling low. Our exercise participation tends to reduce, moving further away from our exercise goals and loosing all those health benefits that exercise provides as discussed above.

So lets firstly discuss mental health. Feeling low, anxious, stressed, depressed or any other feels you may be having is not uncommon and you should not feel alone if you are experiencing any of these feelings. In fact The Mental Health Foundation completed one of the largest Stress related surveys in 2017 of over 4000 people. They found that 74% of people have felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope at least once in the past year. 46% of people commented that they eat too much or eat unhealthy food when they are stressed, 29% increased their alcohol consumption and 16% increased their cigarette intake. You can see from these statistics that you are most certainly not alone in your feelings and there are probably friends or family who have been through the same feelings as you. You can also see how stress can have a detrimental effect on ours bodies.

So how can exercise help you feel less stressed, anxious or depressed?

As we exercise, our brain produces a chemical called Endorphins in our brain. This chemical interacts with receptors in our brain to reduce our feeling of pain and to make ourselves feel happier. It also reduces the amount of cortisol produced, which is the hormone that creates that 'stressed' feeling. People that are 'addicted' to exercise and spend multiple hours doing exercise per week and are actually 'addicted' to those endorphins produced in the brain and the euphoric feeling they get after they have trained.

Your brain is not picky about the type of exercise you have to do in order for it to release endorphins however the harder you work the more you will produce. The most important thing about selecting an exercise to help with your mental health is to pick something that you would enjoy! It could be anything from yoga, going for walks with a loved one, team sports (which have been found to have the best results), gym classes, cycling or even housework.

This video below from Braive is a great information guide to discuss more benefits of exercise for stress, anxiety and depression.

If you would like anymore information or advice about how to get yourself going then please feel free to contact me!


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