Posted on March 5, 2019 at 3:07 pm
We all know exercise is good for our physical health. However, there is ample evidence that it also helps our mental health. It is helpful in Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Dementia and many other psychiatric disorders, and reduces stress. It helps to calm us, increases energy, improves focus, improves memory, addresses sleep difficulties and boosts self-esteem. This all occurs through biological and psychological changes – some of which are marked, and some more subtle.
Exercise boosts the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain. It also helps to reduce inflammation, improves wiring and firing of the neurons, and helps to generate new neurons. Evidence on the benefits of consistent and moderate exercise is all positive.
It may feel daunting at first to engage in some form of exercise, but this feeling won’t last long. It can soon become part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Start slowly – do what you feel comfortable with and start to build up as your body begins to change and wants to be challenged. You can just start with 5 minutes, if that’s all you can manage. There are short videos on interval training on YouTube, which is a great place to start. Ideally, you want to be aiming for about 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week. Each individual’s aerobic capacity is different; essentially it is about increasing your breathing and heart rate. This can be brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming etc. Variety always helps to break the monotony and target different muscle groups. It is also beneficial to engage in other forms of exercise such as yoga, pilates, stretching as this helps with regulating your breathing whilst contracting the muscles and connective tissues. Weight training is also essential for your bone health.
Exercise does not have to be monotonous. The effects can be achieved through dancing, playing tag with your kids etc. The aim is to get moving and to enjoy it. This way you will sustain the effects. Some people like to exercise solo, while others prefer a class, or gym. Find what works for you – perhaps a combination. Exercising with someone or in a class increases motivation and performance. Say yes to some healthy competition! I find paying upfront for my weekly classes gives me a motivation (stops me from chickening out last minute) and gives me something to look forward to in the busy week. If you can afford it, you can seek support of a personal trainer to assist you in the initial stages.
‘You’re only one workout away from a good mood.’-Unknown
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