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Improve your mental health through exercise

Improve your mental health through exercise

Hallie Criste

Health & Wellbeing

Mar 20, 2019

We’re all well aware of the positive effects that exercise can have on our physical health, but did you know it’s also responsible for improving our mental well-being? In fact, studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exercise can be as beneficial as therapy and/or medication [1].

Each year, Anytime Fitness Australia puts on a treadmill event where members, friends and family come together to walk on the treadmill for 24 hours straight. Whether teams take turns or individuals do the full 24 hours, this challenge is important to our community for a variety of reasons – the main being that it helps create conversation and awareness around suicide prevention.

This year, we are proud to announce that the official partner of our treadmill challenge will be R U OK?, a suicide prevention charity that aims to start life-changing conversations to create a more connected world.

An important part of the Anytime Fitness community is taking the time to look out for each other. Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do. You don’t need to be an expert – just a good friend and a great listener.

We want as many people as possible to get out, get connected and get moving as it’s one of the best things we can do for both our bodies and minds. But why exactly is exercise so good for our mental health? We’ll tell you!

1. Releases mood boosting chemicals – Exercise is known to produce endorphins which help to reduce the perception of pain and also helps trigger feelings of positivity [2].
2. Improves sleep quality – While our bodies physically require sleep to function, it also helps regulate mood.
3. Gives you something positive to focus on – In the middle of a challenging workout, you must be focused. It’s actually hard to concentrate on anything else! Exercise helps clear your mind and puts you in touch with your body.
4. Can be a healthy release of frustration – Letting out pent up frustrations and putting your energy into a workout is super satisfying! If you combine this with increased endorphin production and a sound head space (as mentioned above), you’ll feel better in no time.
5. Provides a good opportunity to socialise and establish a connection with those around you – It can help remove feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to engage in conversation. Sometimes, all it takes is exchanging a smile.
6. Can assist in establishing higher self-esteem – Setting a goal, no matter how big or small, then taking the necessary steps to achieve it is so rewarding. It can be hard telling yourself that you’re capable, but if you break it down and take it one small step at a time you WILL get there.

Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise, we want you to know that that is OK. If you’re struggling, here are some tips to get yourself out and moving:

1. Small steps – If this means walking a lap around the block, then do that. If it means trying some gentle yoga, go for it. Segment your task down into teeny tiny steps until you find the first one that feels achievable.
2. Establish some accountability – Reach out to a friend. It may motivate you more if you feel like you’re committed to someone else. Plus, you get to incorporate the social aspect of things and feel a sense of community and support.
3. Do something fun – Exercise does not need to be a weight circuit or a 10km run. It can be anything from cycling to dancing to kayaking to yoga. Just getting the body moving will be better than nothing and help you get those endorphins pumping!
4. Set goals – And track yourself! Be proud of every single step you overcome.
5. Try to establish a routine – Put it in your diary and make time! Your body and mind will eventually adjust and begin to crave it.
6. Reach out for support – If you’re finding that you feel down, and are struggling to get started, ask for help. A well connected and supported community is something that both Anytime Fitness and R U OK? agree are so important.

References
[1] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-yourself/exercise-your-way-to-good-mental-health
[2] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-and-mental-health