01 Apr Can Regular Exercise Improve Your Mood?
Can Regular Exercise Improve Your Mood?
Keeping active isn’t just a fantastic way to improve your physical health and fitness; evidence shows that it also has mental wellbeing healing properties.
Although there is little understanding of which exercises help the best, or how much exercise is needed, what is known is that it certainly has a positive effect on mood and emotions.
It is thought that the mind and the body are separate from each other, however, what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental state.
// How Does It Work?
Scientists believe that physical activity can help to maintain and improve your mood in a number of ways. It is believed that 16 weeks of regular exercise is just as effective as an antidepressant in treating mild-to-moderate depression, and it also helps to prevent people from relapsing into depression and evidence shows that it can help protect people against anxiety. This is because exercising is believed to cause chemical changes in the brain which positively alter your mood.
Some scientists believe that being active can improve wellbeing as it sparks a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control, and ability to rise to a challenge. It can also reduce the feeling of stress so if you’re having/had a tough week at work, hitting the gym or going for a quick run can be a great release.
If you have a busy and demanding lifestyle or are struggling to think clearly, exercising gives you the time to stop and focus your energy on one activity, allowing you to clear your thoughts and focus simply on the movements. Exercising forces you to slow down and focus on the individual muscle that you are exercising which also encourage a sense of calm. Additionally, for many people with mental health problems, it can be a welcome break from an ‘overloaded’ brain.
Exercising can also be a great excuse to socialise. Gym goers tend to be very helpful and friendly, always looking to help each other. Gyms are a fantastic place to make friends. Members are encouraged to spot each other and have fun! The gym should not be a chore, although it can be hard to get started, you should eventually grow to love the feeling of accomplishment after you have pushed yourself through a hard session, once you see the results you won’t want to stop. The gym’s atmosphere will reflect this.
If you are not confident, don’t be ashamed to ask for help! The more experienced members are more often than not happy to pass on their tips and help. It is not a competition as everyone has their own pace, it’s about having fun and challenging stigma and discrimination. Most of the “scary” bodybuilders that you may feel indicated by, are really the big friendly giants who can offer valuable advice on how you can achieve their build (if that is your goal).
// What Can You Do?
As we still have a lack of understanding into what physical activity, and how much, actually helps to improve mood, judge it based on your own ability. Test what works and what doesn’t. Push yourself, but don’t overdo it. If you are not comfortable, stop.
Generally, aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, or running are a great way to reduce stress and clear your mind. Dancing can also help to improve happiness, increase energy levels and help to get you out and socialising with others if you’re feeling lonely.
Strength training, such as weight lifting, helps massively with self-esteem, body and overall confidence. Focusing your mind on improving your body helps you become more aware. You can gather an understanding of your own emotions and learn how to control your moods. The time you spend exercising acts as a welcome break, giving you the change to assess what is truly dampening your mood–a great opportunity to think.
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