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The importance of exercise on mental health and how it can impact your quality of life!

They say the hardest part of any type of training is getting there! Once you are in the Personal Training Studio your mind is focused and you are committed to undertaking an awesome, sweaty session!

It is those days when you are feeling down and not in the right mental state that you find yourself calling in sick or not rocking up.

Everyone knows that when you exercise you feel good afterwards, but what is the relationship between physical activity and mental health and why is it that there is a positive feeling post exercise?

As training professionals we understand certain days are tough and those tough days are some of the hardest to pick yourself up and get yourself to your session. We all have our down days where our psychological state feels low. It is how we respond in those times that counts the most and the accomplishment we feel when things are not going our way but we turn them around through hard work and dedication. So we want to reiterate that along with the physical benefits, there is an abundance of psychological benefits that research has shown to assist in keeping our mental wellbeing stable.

Mental Health 1

Everyone has heard of the runners high, there is reason why people become addicted to going to the gym and working out. The psychological benefits of training have been a hot research topic for many years. Many studies have delved into the reason behind this “runners high” and the studies have looked into the brain’s role in post exercise emotions.

Research has suggested that when you exercise, your body releases chemicals/hormones called endorphins and serotonin. These are two of the main and well-known hormones that are released, there are many more that also assist with our mental state. These hormones interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body. Research has also shown that these hormones have a direct relation in stabilizing mood, sleep, digestion, stress and pain, along with other widespread benefits.

In conjunction with improving these factors there has also been research that suggests that when these aspects are increased it can assist in those suffering from depression and anxiety. Exercise cannot be a direct treatment for depression and anxiety but many reports advocate that exercise in combination with other medical treatment is an effective way to tackle these issues. Mental Health 2

 By improving these areas of our mental state, the benefits can be found in our everyday life and consequently improve our quality of life. With an additional boost within our brain chemistry, the increase in hormone production effects our cognition and thus improves most executive functions. For example, executive functions include attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, problem solving, and decision making. All of these examples have a direct relationship to your work life and social life and by getting mentally on top of these areas of your life you will find yourself feeling more content and happy.

In addition to all these psychological/chemical benefits a simpler benefit exercise can have on our mental wellbeing is its impact on our confidence/self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself and your appearance is something we all strive for. Nobody wants to look in the mirror and not appreciate what we see.  So with a commitment to exercise you will slowly find yourself feeling more and more confident and content with the way you appear. By improving our confidence and self-esteem you will find an added self-assurance in social situations thus leading to more quality social interactions.

Good things rarely just happen, they usually come through hard work and dedication. So when you are feeling down and cannot be bothered with training just remember, the hardest part is getting there! Once you are there the exercises are a piece of cake. Always keep in mind the psychological benefits of exercise and remember that once you finish you will feel accomplished and happy with the direction your life is heading.    

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Ben Twite

Ben Twite

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