Looking after our Mental Health and well-being is always extremely important, but it is especially important during this difficult and unprecedented time.
Physical activity is good for both your body AND your mind.
Studies show that exercise positively benefits and impacts your Mental Health, but we wanted to ask an audience to see how true that rings. We took to Instagram and asked the question ‘Do you believe Exercise benefits your Mental Health?’ Out of the 50 that answered, 97% said yes and just 3% said no, providing a clear message that people feel exercise benefits our Mental Health and well-being.
We all have different types of exercise that we enjoy, or that contributes to looking after our well-being. To find out which exercises were perceived as the most beneficial to mental health, we asked our LinkedIn audience ‘What form of exercise do you think benefits your Mental Health the most?’. From the 77 votes, our survey shows that walking or running are the most popular amongst respondents, which is no surprise with gyms being closed across the UK and Ireland. High Intensity Workouts are second most popular, with the quick and intense activity giving a hiit of endorphins, and yoga came third with just 5% of votes.
COVID-19 has been a tough time for everyone, and it can be easy to lose your normal exercise or workout routine. However, it is so important to incorporate some form of exercise into your day for both your body and mind. With that in mind, and from looking at our surveys, we have come up with a few tips that not only will get you active but also may benefit your mental health.
1. Find something you enjoy doing and have FUN
- Whether you love the gym, dancing, walking, running or even HIIT, find something you enjoy and make sure you are having fun whilst doing it. Don’t like running? DON’T run! Find something that you like to do and that suits your routine. Doing something you like will make your exercise routine far more enjoyable, it will boost your mood, won’t seem so strenuous, and will encourage you to do it more regularly.
2. Get out of the house!
- Walking, jogging or running (whatever pace you prefer) is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, especially with a lot of us being in lockdown or working from home due to COVID-19. It is so important to get out of your house! You might walk for 2 hours or just 20 minutes, either way it will benefit your body and mind and you will get some fresh air!
- Walking and running are proven forms of stress management. These exercises increase norepinephrine, a chemical that helps moderate the brain’s response to stress. They also naturally boost Vitamin D levels.
- So, listen to your favourite music, audiobook or podcast. Challenge yourself to do a couch to 5K. Track your steps. Take your dog (or cat) out for a walk. Do whatever suits you best, just get outdoors!
3. Online Workouts
- Whether you are looking for a dance class, a beginner’s Pilates class or a high intensity workout, there is always something to be found online. YouTube alone has thousands of online workouts at all levels that you can find by just typing in what you are looking for. If you are on Instagram or Facebook, there are several Personal Trainers from all over the world right now that are holding both live and recorded workouts. If you are a gym-goer, why don’t you check with your gym to see if they are doing online workouts?
- Online workouts mean that you are in the comfort of your own home, without the intimidation of being in a class full of other people. Just starting out by yourself and gaining confidence in exercises can open the gateway into in-person classes post-COVID. And as an added bonus, most online workouts are free to do, so there’s nothing to lose!
- Find something that you enjoy. Zumba, Pilates, HIIT, stretching, whatever it may be. Do something that boosts your mood and your mind, and you WILL feel the benefits.
- Guided yoga workouts can also be found on a wide range of platforms at all levels. From YouTube and Facebook to dedicated Yoga websites, there are plenty of online classes available.
- Yoga has several benefits including stress management, reduction of muscle tension and strain. It also incorporates meditation and breathing techniques that are excellent for your mind. Yoga’s benefits on mental health have made it an important practice of psychotherapy.
In conclusion Exercise does benefit your mental health and here are some reasons why:
- Exercise can boost your energy levels and reduce stress. Physical activity and exercise increase the release of endorphins which gives you that ‘feel good’ feeling.
- Exercise can increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. There is also a great social aspect which can allow you to meet others or get involved in a new community.
- Doctors recommend doing some form of exercise regularly to help improve stress, depression, and anxiety. It also boosts brainpower, from building intelligence to strengthening memory.
- Finally, exercise can help you to relax and allow you to sleep better. Getting rid of excess energy or stress built up over the day will help you wind down and go to bed feeling calmer and more relaxed.
Now, more than ever, it's important to look after your mental health and well-being, and exercise is such a simple place to start. So dust off those trainers and get yourself outside!