There are many different reasons why physical activity is good for your body, from having a healthy heart to improving your bone health, but did you know that fitness is also hugely beneficial for your mental health. A lot of us need to change the way that we view physical activity and transform it from something that we should do for our health into something that we choose to do because of the positive effects it has on our wellbeing.
Being active doesn’t just mean going to the gym or taking part in a sport. There are lots of ways in which you can be active - you just need to find one which works for you. Physical exercise creates happy neurotransmitters and these endorphins help to combat stress and anxiety which can then boost your mood, so here are 5 reasons why fitness and mental health go hand in hand.
Sleep is important
Hardly anyone is getting the amount of sleep that they need, which then has a huge impact on our health, from mood and eating habits to anxiety levels and productivity. Exercise helps to increase the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, to help you relax and fall asleep easier. Doing 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day will have a hugely positive impact on your sleeping pattern, which will, in turn, make you feel much happier.
Boost your productivity
Exercise improves our daily cognitive functions that are associated with decision making, which then enables us to be more switched on and productive for the rest of the day. It has been shown that lower intensity exercise is much more effective than high-intensity exercise when it comes to improving productivity. We all know that exercise keeps you healthy, but it also helps to boost productivity in all aspects of your life.
Make it social
If you don’t like the thought of working out on your own or are daunted by the thought of going to the gym alone, why not ask a friend or family member to go with you and make it a social event? You’ll likely be more inclined to go if you’ve got someone else to go with, plus it will remove the anxiety of doing it alone.
Improve your diet
If you’re someone who eats their feelings, whether it be when your upset or stressed, then it’s highly likely that you’ll reach for unhealthy foods when your mood dips rather than a piece of fruit. By focusing on exercise, you’ll likely want to change your diet too, so this will then have a positive impact on your mood.
The saying is true - you are what you eat and when you’ll notice that when you eat junk food, you feel tired and sluggish. Look at adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and look at adding supplements, such as high strength fish oil and multivitamins, to boost your overall health. However, changes to your diet should be done on the advice from your doctor and if you are currently on medication for your mental health, you should discuss any vitamins and supplements before you begin taking them.
More is not better
You don’t need to run a full marathon to boost your mood. 45 minutes of exercise is the optimal amount of exercise 3-5 times a week. Remember, all movement counts and all movement will make you feel good. Run, walk, cycle, dance - just get moving in a way which fits in with your lifestyle and you’ll reap the benefits. Don’t get stressed out about working out - it should be something you do to de-stress, so take it easy and make it fun!