Exercise can seem like an impossible challenge when you’re having a tough time. You’ve been told countless times that it’s good for you on a number of levels, but how exactly does exercise impact your mental wellbeing? And more importantly, how do you get motivated to start in the first place?
Exercise provides you with a fantastic buffer against stress – decreasing stress hormones like ‘cortisol’ and releasing feel -good chemicals like ‘endorphins’ and ‘serotonin’ that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, reducing any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people. According to statistics, exercising regularly can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health (like depression and anxiety) just as effectively as taking antidepressants. So exercise alleviates depression – without the side effects of medication – and results in weight loss too. It’s a no brainer in terms of boosting mental health, but tackling the issue of motivation can be another matter.
Simply knowing the benefits can be a great motivating factor for many. To add to the list, exercise also pumps blood to the brain which can help you think clearly. Screen overload, lockdown life – it all adds up to create plenty of fog in the grey matter. So why not start by taking a short walk around the block on a daily basis, or joining an online or actual live class.
Need more of a nudge? Exercise can also improve your sleep which of course is important in many different ways. It increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. It also increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease. Moreover, exercise promotes confidence by helping you lose weight, tone your body, and maintain a healthy glow and a smile.
All great reasons to make a start. Remember not to over-do it , keep experimenting and stay patient with your exercise programme.
Finally, always consult a qualified medical practitioner if you have any concerns or have a medical condition prior to undertaking any physical activity.