Fitness & Nutrition: Exercise and Your Mental Health

 

We all know (or should know) the benefits regular exercise has on us physically, but in my opinion the psychological and emotional benefits are often overlooked.

We all have stresses in our life – work, money, kids, illness, mortgage etc. Everybody’s situation is different but it has the same effect on our bodies – stress. When your body is put under stress (physical or mental) it releases Cortisol into the bloodstream. High levels of Cortisol can increase the risk of depression, mental illness and lower life expectancy. Regular physical activity helps reduce the amount of Cortisol in the blood.
Exercising also releases endorphins or the “feel good” chemicals into the body. These natural chemicals help improve your mood, give you a better outlook and make you feel happier.
Other benefits include;
  • less tension, stress and mental fatigue
  • a natural energy boost
  • improved sleep
  • a sense of achievement
  • focus in life and motivation
  • less anger or frustration
  • a healthy appetite
  • better social life
  • having fun.
It is easy just to write about these things and take them as fact but are they true??
A few weeks ago I did a little experiment in the gym. I sat at reception and made a point out of chatting to as many people as I could entering and leaving the gym.
Some of the things that I observed included:
  • ü  People leaving the gym smiled a lot more talking to me then when they were on the way in
  • ü  People were a lot more chatty and outgoing after their workout
  • ü  People seemed a lot more alert after their workout
  • ü  People who barely acknowledged me on the way in made a point of saying goodbye on the way out

 

Think about it yourself – have you ever done a good workout or went for a run and felt like crap after?? I definitely haven’t, I always feel extremely positive after exercise. Another thing I notice is that I am extremely productive after working out. Whether it is at home or at work I always get loads done in the 4-5 hours following a training session.
Exercise is a great release from the stresses of everyday life. Next time you feel things are getting on top of you take some time for yourself – go for a walk/run, hit the gym, go for a swim. I guarantee it will help improve your outlook on things.
Look after your body and you’re mind J
 
Steve Barry

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