SHAPING UP: Physical activity is not only good for your body it's also good for your mental health
October 10 was World Mental Health Day; the objective being to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
So, today I’d like to talk about the positive effects of exercise.
Everyone knows physical activity is good for your body, but exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Regular exercise can have an impact on depression, anxiety, it helps you sleep better and boost your overall mood.
And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference.
I think we need to alter our views, that exercise is no longer a chore or seen as something we have to do for our physical health, but as something that we do because we value its positive mental benefits too and so we enjoy all the rewards of working out.
Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good.
When you have mental health issues and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting yourself unrealistic goals like completing a marathon or working out twice a day will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. Better to set yourself achievable goals and build up from there.
Being active doesn’t have to mean doing sport or going to the gym. There are lots of ways to be active, here’s my tips for moving your body and getting those endorphins flowing.
Couch to 5K
Couch to 5K is a running plan for beginners. It was developed to help people to get off the couch and start running. The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks. Thousands of people have completed this programme and gained lots of motivation from it. It’s also free to join. Bonus! Just go to the app store and download the app on your phone to get started.
The East Coast Fitness Boot Camp isn’t as hard or as intimidating as you may imagine. It’s designed so that you can take everything at your own speed. There are different levels of every exercise so that it suits all fitness levels. And it isn’t full of super fit teenagers. Most people are between 30 and 60 years old and attend boot camp because of the social benefits, which is an important factor in mental health.
If you’d like to try the East Coast Fitness boot camp you can come along for a whole week for only £10. www.eastcoast-fitness.com/trial
Cold Water Bathing
Cold water bathing has risen to popularity over the last couple of years, especially along the North East coast where you’ll find people swimming all year around. And it’s another form of exercise that’s great for mental health. Once you get used to the cold it’s very relaxing. Floating in the sea with just the sound of the waves, away from technology and away from work, it gives you time to switch off and clear your mind. Being in the cold water is exhilarating, it really boosts your mood and the refreshing sensation lifts any brain fog leaving you feeling like new. It can also improve your circulation, speed up your immune system and reduce stress.