Let me start off by saying I write this blog not as an expert on mental health or as a psychologist but merely as someone who has struggled with my own mental health through various stages of my life. Everything written here is based on my own experiences and thoughts; and what I have found through my experiences may not correlate with what others have found through theirs.
Mental health can manifest itself in many different forms – stress, anxiety, and depression just to name a few; and while I’m not going to claim exercise is a miracle drug which will make all your mental health issues disappear I do believe that exercise can definitely play a role in helping anyone with mental health struggles.
Some of the benefits of exercise on mental health include:
- Physiological benefits
- Feelings of accomplishment
- Social benefits
Exercise helps stimulate the release of feel-good brain chemicals including endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals help relieve pain and stress while also helping to regulate your mood.
Feelings of Accomplishment
Exercising can also help give you feelings of accomplishment which can in turn enhance your mood. This feeling of accomplishment may come in the form of achieving a personal goal, or even something as simple as just getting outside or to the gym and completing an hour of exercise. There is no right or wrong when it comes to accomplishments, the focus is more on you having achieved something and done something for yourself.
Exercise can be a great way to socialise; whether it’s hiking and chatting with a friend, completing a gym session with your workout buddy or, in our studio, being a part of one of Live Well’s Semi-Private training groups. The social and community aspect of exercising with friends definitely has a positive effect on people’s mood and well being. Even the simple matter of being part of a team or group and having people around you supporting you can be a great help to anyone struggling with their mental health.
Mental health is never something that any of us should take for granted and it remains vital to look after ourselves and others and it is my opinion that exercise can be a major part of that process.