Exercise and Mental Health: Working Out to Stay Happy and Healthy
Today we’re talking about two very important things: staying happy and healthy. Did you know mental and emotional health can be improved through exercise?
We love life and try to take every opportunity to live to the fullest, but we all face challenges that can make this difficult. Luckily, there are lifestyle choices we can make to help improve our mental and emotional health. Working out can help us stay physically and mentally strong, so we’re more prepared when things get tough.
Read on to learn how exercise and mental health are linked, and how to use this knowledge to feel your very best.
Want to take the next step? Join Fitness World to get started with a free personal training session.
How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?
There’s plenty of exercise and mental health research that demonstrates the importance of improving your overall wellbeing by working out. Grab your lab coat and goggles, we’re going to take a quick look at the science:
- Non-profit academic medical center the Mayo Clinic explains how exercise can reduce depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins. These are chemicals in our brains that are released when we exercise.
- Serotonin and dopamine are also released when we work out. These are some of the chemicals that mood-regulating medications often work to impact.
- Exercise can also reduce our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in stressful situations.
- If you’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high” you’ll know just how great this feeling can be. Johns Hopkins explains that endocannabinoids may be the cause – a substance produced by the body that’s similar to cannabis.
- Open science platform Frontiers also explains that exercise triggers the same kind of physical responses as those we experience in high-stress situations, including increased heat rate and rapid breathing. Working out can help people who suffer from anxiety cope with symptoms, as it acts as a kind of exposure therapy.
Emotional Benefits of Working Out
There’s no end to the exercise and mental health research out there. Beyond the science, working out can improve your overall wellbeing by helping you stay motivated to invest in you, and improve your lifestyle. Here’s a few more reasons why exercise and mental health go hand in hand:
- No more FOMO! Going to the gym can help you get out of the house. We’ve all spent plenty of time at home recently. Going out to the gym can help you work towards a lifestyle that embraces the new normal, while protecting your physical and mental health.
- Get your groove on; working out with music can improve your mood. Whether your playlist features throwback 90s pop or the latest hits, working out to the beat is a real mood-booster. According to a study detailed on Healthline, music can improve your self-esteem and quality of life.
- Stay motivated. Whether you can’t get enough of the Google Calendar app or you prefer to wing it most of the time, having a set class or gym schedule can help you maintain a sense of purpose and routine.
- Realize you’re all that. Meeting your fitness goals can help you gain confidence, feel pride in your abilities and improve your overall self-esteem.
- Press pause on your worries: When we’re stuck home alone, it can be hard to keep our minds clear. Exercise can help us focus on achievable goals.
- Chat, laugh and meet new people. The gym is a great place to socialize and build friendships. Share every success with likeminded people at fitness classes.
- Meet your goals with a Personal Trainer. Your personal trainer will be your new best fitness buddy. They’ll tailor your workouts so you can meet the goals that mean the most to you.
Why wait? Try a fitness club that offers a 7-Day Free Pass to find out if the gym is right for you, risk-free. Grab one for a friend too, for double the fun.
What is the Best Exercise for Mental Health?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, it depends on the kind of activities you enjoy and what you’re trying to achieve.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Short bursts of aerobic exercise can give you a rush of endorphins. Jumping jacks, pushups and squats are all cardio (aerobic) exercises.
- Yoga: Reduce muscle tension, stress and blood pressure by regularly practicing yoga. Love the way you feel after a morning yoga class? There’s good reason for that. Breathing exercises and meditation can also improve mental health.
- Running: Running not only releases endorphins and gives you that awesome “runner’s high”, it can help you sleep better, and we all love a little extra pillow time.
- Class activities: All exercise classes come with the added benefit of meeting new workout buddies and following a class schedule. Although in-person classes might be cancelled, you’ll find new favourite classes online with Fitness World. Grab a Fit or Goal Membership for your opportunity to work out with our team from the comfort of your home, no matter where you are in the world.
To discuss exercise and mental health, and define your personal fitness goals, schedule a session with a personal trainer!
We’ve Got You! Join Our Community
You’re never alone on your fitness journey! If you live in or around Vancouver, we’re here to support you. Sign up for a Fitness World membership to receive your free personal training session, where we’ll also chat about nutrition.
Put your favourite music on and work out to the beat. We can’t wait to see you at the gym!