It probably doesn’t surprise you that physical and mental health are closely connected.
Studies have shown that running for 15 minutes per day or walking for an hour per day can decrease the risk of depression by 26 per cent.
Exercising regularly is even considered to be as effective in treating acute mental health conditions as some medications.
When you’re physically active, your body releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, which can help make you feel great.
But that’s not all it’s good for.
Here are a few of the benefits of regular physical activity, plus how to find out what form of exercise is best for your mental health.
Getting enough sleep is vital for positive mental health.
We’ve all experienced feeling sluggish and foggy on days when we haven’t had enough rest.
Often the last thing you feel like doing when you’re sleep deprived is go for a jog around the block.
However, regular exercise can improve your overall sleep quality and length.
Provides a sense of achievement
Any exercise is better than no exercise – truly.
Even if you can’t achieve the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise, going for a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, or swimming 15 laps in your local swimming pool in the morning can still have a big impact.
Regular exercise brings with it a sense of accomplishment as you set fitness goals and smash them. Whether that means training for a marathon, doing some HIIT classes, working with a personal trainer at the gym, or incorporating a yoga session into your weekly routine – reaching your activity goals will help to promote total physical and mental wellbeing.
Reduces the risk of mental illness
Exercise is a serious weapon against mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
When you get your heart rate up by engaging in moderate to high intensity activity, more blood and oxygen flows to your brain.
This helps stimulate the growth of new brain cells and flood you with chemicals such as serotonin (aka ‘the happy chemical’).
Many health professionals recommend regular physical activity to patients with depression and anxiety because of the positive effect it has on treating these illnesses.
Stress can tighten your muscles and lead to an array of negative physical conditions.
Exercise can help relieve muscle tension and decrease stress by promoting blood flow.
What’s even better is exercising with other people.
Having peers and supportive coaches around you to keep you moving and keep you motivated
So, what’s the best exercise for mental health?
There is no right or wrong way to incorporate physical activity into your routine.
You should choose to exercise in a way that makes you feel the best.
Whether that’s going freestyle in the gym, or joining a group exercise class like boxing, reformer pilates, yoga, or cycle, if you’re enjoying it, then it’s working.
If you’re just starting out, or a seasoned pro, fitness clubs like Virgin Active that offer hundreds of different group classes every week, plus a gym, pool, spa, sauna and premium changeroom facilities for a comfortable post-workout cool down.
To find your closest club and start incorporating physical activity in your routine, book your free club tour today.