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The recent re-opening of gyms on the 25th July after their closure in March has reinforced the positive benefits that exercise can have on our mental health. During lock-down it was necessary for gym goers to substitute their usual trip to the gym for running, daily walks and home workout DVD’s.

Dr Sarah Gingell recently stated in her article in ‘Psychology Today’ that “exercise is well known to stimulate the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones which can make problems seem more manageable.” (*)

Physical activity does not mean running marathons/ taking part in triathlons, Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout(**). Studies show that there is approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity. (***)

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

  • Improved Moods – physical activity releases ‘feel-good’ hormones.
  • Self Esteem – being active can improve your self-esteem as you set/ meet personal goals
  • Controlling Stress and Anxiety – Physical exercise will give your brain something else to focus on rather than dwelling on anxious or intrusive thoughts.
  • Improved Sleep – after exercising you have used up energy that will make you feel tired and ready for a content night’s sleep.
  • A chance to connect with new people – group or team activities can help you meet like minded people and make new bonds, even with social distancing.

With gyms reopening, it’s another step closer to normality and improved mental health but remember it doesn’t have to cost money to feel the benefits; a walk with a dog or a friend is free and easy, download ‘Couch to 5k’ and give running a try or ‘Active 10’ which encourages a pre-set amount of brisk 10 minutes walks throughout the day.

Exercise isn’t the only way to improve mental health and some may find it more helpful to talk things through with a qualified professional. At The Eaves, many of our therapists are offering face to face and online therapy, with immediate availability to clients. If you are looking for support, please call the referrals team on 01483 917000 and they will be happy to source a suitable therapist for you based on your requirements.

References:

(*) https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/what-works-and-why/201803/how-your-mental-health-reaps-the-benefits-exercise

(**) https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety#:~:text=Exercise%20may%20improve%20mental%20health%20by%20helping%20the,an%20anxiety%20disorder%20over%20the%20next%20five%20years.

(***) https://sportengland-production-files.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/dh_128210.pdf