SHAPING UP: Exercise can help your mental health

In the past I’ve written a few articles about the effects of exercise on your mental health, but with recent high-profile events it’s seems like a good time to talk about it again.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:00 am
Fun Run - Race For Life

Everyone knows physical activity is good for your body, but exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health problems will affect one in four people at some point in their lives, so it is really important to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.

Regular exercise can have an impact on depression, anxiety, it helps you sleep better and boost your overall mood.

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And you don't have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference.

I think we need to alter our views, that exercise is no longer a chore or seen as something we have to do for our physical health, but as something that we do because we value its positive mental benefits too and so we enjoy all the rewards of working out.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that boosts your mood and make you feel good.

When you have mental health issues and haven't exercised for a long time, setting yourself unrealistic goals like completing a marathon or working out twice a day will only leave you more despondent if you fall short. It’s better to set yourself achievable goals and build up from there.

Being active doesn't have to mean doing sport or going to the gym. There are lots of ways to be active, here's my tips for moving your body and getting those endorphins flowing.

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K is a running plan for beginners. It was developed to help people to get off the couch and start running. The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks. Thousands of people have completed this programme and gained lots of motivation from it. It's also free to join. Bonus! Just go to the app store and download the app on your phone to get started.

Group Fitness

Group training at East Coast Fitness isn't as hard or as intimidating as you may imagine. It's designed so that you can take everything at your own speed. There are variations of every exercise so that it suits all fitness levels. And it isn't full of super fit, posing, gym bunnies. Most people are between 30 and 60 years old and attend because of the social benefits, which is an important factor in mental health.

If you'd like to try our group training programme at East Coast Fitness you can come along for a whole week for only £10. www.eastcoast-fitness.com/trial

Fun Run

Fun runs, like the Race For Life 10K event are a great way of doing some exercise but having fun at the same time. You can take part on your own or you can do it with a group of friends. Events like this are really fun, you'll have a good laugh and it will give you a great sense of achievement afterwards. The Race For Life 10K is coming to Herrington Country Park on Sunday, May 31.

For more info go to www.raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org