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Exercise & Mental Health – Developing a Practice

Exercise & Mental Health Developing a Practice to aid emotional resiliance, boost confidence and self esteem. This blog will explore why exercise is good for our emotional and mental health and give you some hints and tips on how you might develop and exercise practice for yourself

Why is Exercise good for our Mental Health?

We are often told that exercising regularly will help us to feel better mentally as well as physically and there is indeed scientific evidence to show that exercise can do the following:

  • Make us more resilient – when we exercise our bodies are stressed and produce the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to help us. In a similar way our brains go through this stress too. When we stop exercising our heart slows down and our bodies recover. Our brains too recover and this repetition of stress and recovery helps are brains be more resilient and able to cope with future stress.
  • Lift our mood – You may have heard of a “runners high” a feeling of euphoria. This is to do with the hormone endorphins. When you exercise intensely your body releases endorphins giving you a feeling of wellbeing.
  • Reduce Stress levels – according to studies exercise greatly impacts on stress levels. Exercising as little as twice a week can help.
  • Help with depression – Because exercise is linked to reduced stress, better self esteem and better sleep. It has been found that it can also protect against depression.
  • Give us a Confidence Boost – Often when you have completed your exercise or finished your class or improved your fitness you get a sense of achievement which boosts your confidence. Also, if you are exercising with others, the natural interaction and connection with other people will impact on how you feel about yourself.
  • Help us sleep better – exercise can help us regulate our sleep. We all know that if we have had a bad nights sleep our sense of wellbeing declines. Getting a good nights sleep is imperative to better mental health.

What Counts as Exercise?

Exercise doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill or playing football. It can be many things including:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Playing sports – for example tennis, football, golf
  • Cleaning in the house.
  • Going to the Gym
  • Exercise Class on You tube
  • Skipping
  • Hoola hooping

Things to Consider

It is important to choose an activity that you enjoy and not one that will feel like a chore. Things to think about before deciding what exercise to do could include:

  • Do I want to be inside or outside to exercise?
  • Do I want to be in a group or on my own?
  • Do I want to do something fast or more gentle?
  • Do I want to try something new?
  • What things will help me be consistent in my exercise? For example, scheduling it into my day will help with consistency, or doing it with a friend will keep me accountable.

My suggestions for starting up an exercise practice to support your mental health would be:

  • Start small and slowly and build up to more as you get comfortable
  • Choose something you enjoy
  • Be realistic about what you can do – time wise, physically, financially etc
  • Schedule a time to do it, around work or family time.
  • Be consistent even if one day you can only do a fraction of what you did the day before, showing up and being consistent will have a cumulative effect.
  • If you have any concerns about exercising, always check with your GP first.

Online resources for the benefit of Exercise on Mental Health.

The NHS has a really useful section on Exercise It has some tips and Ideas, some fitness guides and the couch to 5K app

Please look here fore more information.

NHS

If you would like to find out more about how I can help you develop an exercise practice to improve your mental health or anything else that might be troubling you please Call me on 07843 813537. Please leave a message if I can’t answer your call and I’ll call you back as soon as possible. If you have any other questions or enquiries please call or send me a message by completing the online enquiry formDue to COVID I am currently working exclusively online or on the telephone.

 

 

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Because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, my face to face counselling services are closed until further notice.

However, I am able to offer counselling sessions via telephone or online video calling. There are many advantages to this, such as keeping yourself and others safe, but you may find it's more convenient to have your sessions from the comfort of your own home as well as saving time and money.

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- Paul Carter