Exercise is not just about keeping your body in shape; working out is also a great way to ensure optimal mental health and wellbeing. Exercise has long been recommended as a treatment option for people with depression and other mental health disorders. Studies have shown that regular moderate exercise may boost mental wellbeing through increased self-confidence, reduced anxiety, resilience to stress and improved sleep.
Regular exercise can help manage depression and mental health disorders by releasing feel-good brain chemicals that boost mood – endorphins, neurotransmitters and endocannabinoids. Working out regularly helps to give you more energy and can boost brainpower. Exercise also helps the brain release chemicals key for memory, concentration and mental sharpness.
Exercise should be fun and functional. Choose workouts that rejuvenate your body and mind. Our favourite workouts for tip-top mental health and wellbeing are:
Pilates is a great workout for the body and mind. The exercises have a strong emphasis on the core – those ‘powerhouse’ internal stomach muscles and obliques. Pilates workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints. Pilates has a strong focus of total attention in both the body movement and attention to the techniques – allowing the body and mind to unite and allowing you to get the most benefit possible from each exercise.
Its not just running that gives you that post-workout high. Resistance training such as body weight or free-weight strength training can be just as effective as cardio to help boost mood and mental wellbeing. Resistance training is especially good for supporting your metabolic rate and strengthening your bones.
The smooth transitions, stretching and bends make yoga a traditional fave for body and mind wellbeing. Yoga has been used for centuries as a method of physical challenge as well as mental salvation. The traditional last pose in yoga – savasana or corpse pose – helps to promote recovery and relaxation – promoting calmness and focus. Regular yoga practice has also been shown to reduce stress levels.
Free, easy and accessible! Walking is a great way to get outside, get the heart rate up and keep your mental health in tact. Walking outside in nature promotes a sense of calm. Opt for at least 20 – 30 minutes each day, take in your surroundings and try to switch off that overactive brain.
Training with friends
Sometimes training alone can be boring or uninspiring. If this is you, choose a workout buddy or join a class. This will help to make things more inspiring and hold you accountable for your health. Any exercise form is fine as long as you are enjoying it and feeling positive both physically and mentally by the end of it.