Hi guys! Dylan here!
Today I’m going to talk to you briefly about the link between mental health and fitness, and how you can drastically improve all aspects of your life by taking an active interest in your own fitness. I know there’s already a lot of stories out there about how fitness has completely changed peoples lives, helped them through difficult times, assisted them in combating addictions, etc, and I know that a lot of you probably wonder how lifting weights or attending exercise classes could possibly have an impact on your mental health, but believe me, it can! I know this from experience.
I went through a period in the past where I was suffering from anxiety and I can honestly say that going to the gym made me 100% a stronger person mentally, and instilled in me the ability to cope much better with certain types of situations. So how does going to the gym effect your mental health?
One of the most common benefits of exercise is stress relief. We have all had those stressful situations, such as a shitty day, financial problems, relationship problems, or simply someone getting on your nerves. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (also known as happy hormones.) The increase in these endorphins in your body leads to a feeling of happiness. You will soon discover its major benefit is that it allows you to forget your problems. Exercise helps you to shed the day’s irritations, and the level of focus you place on your ‘feel good’ exercise results in higher energy levels. Not only do you become completely absorbed in what you are doing at the time, but the positive endorphins the exercise releases will also help you to maintain a more positive outlook afterwards. There is also the added advantage of feeling very calm too.
Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity will help relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. As the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better, so too will your mind.
This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s an important one in my opinion. It’s always nice to feel really good about yourself, and whether you are looking to loose weight or gain weight, there’s no better place to this then in the gym. After a tough workout, you will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment because you’ve taken another step towards your goals. This all has a knock on effect on your self-confidence. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness. After all, your self confidence is pretty much determined by how good you feel about yourself.
3. Sleep and relaxation
Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia! Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temperature drops back to normal a few hours later, it sends a signal to the body that it’s time to sleep.
4. Coping with situations
We’ve all been through that tough break-up, loss of a loved one, or bad time in life. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, as opposed to resorting to alcohol, (I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this), or indeed other negative behaviours that will ultimately only make the symptoms worse. In my opinion, the best way to combat these problems is to go to the gym, plug in your earphones, and just escape from the world for an hour. You will have a better sense of clarity afterwards, and you will feel so much better too.
5. Enjoy Yourself
Unfortunately I see far too many people taking fitness too seriously these days. I know it’s not for everyone, but the way I look at it is that you have to have a happy medium. I completely understand why it is taken so seriously by people who are competing at a high level in sports or bodybuilding, and I completely respect their commitment too, but for most of us, all we really need is a good balance. I see people posting statements on Facebook like, “Off the drink for 2 months” or, ” That’s it, no more take-aways for the next 2 months!” Sitting in every weekend while all your friends are out having dinner, drinks, going to cinema, etc, is, in my opinion, not a good choice at all. You need to enjoy yourself and spend time with people you love, and not be worrying if you have a few drinks or go out for a meal with your family. Now I’m not advising that you do this every day or every week for that matter, but once in a while is not going to set you back drastically in terms of your fitness goals. Fitness and health is a lifestyle choice not just something you do for a few weeks.
Life is too short, enjoy it! 🙂
Hope this has been of some help!