This week is National Workouts and Wellbeing Week. In association with the charity Mind, it aims to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing through exercise and mindfulness.
There is strong evidence to show that there is a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing.
Regular exercise encourages neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells. This allows us to focus better and learn quicker.
Exercising gives you an energy boost and the more energy you have the more productive you are.
There are a range of different exercises that can benefit your mental state and help you to refocus your mind. You should find physical activities that you enjoy doing and try to fit these into your day to day life.
But what exercises should you be trying out?
Running often helps people to clear their mind and it is often a way for people to cope with anxiety and depression.
Research has found that running quickly for half an hour improves “cortical flicker frequency” threshold, which is associated with the ability to process information better. Alternative research has shown that interval running improves aspects of “executive function”, mental high-level faculties that include marshalling attention, tuning out distractions, switching between tasks and solving problems.
‘Outdoor exercise can be particularly beneficial and research suggests it can actually be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression’, according to Mind Information Manager, Rachel Boyd.
Boxing is an effective way to get your heart racing and to get any negative feelings and emotions out in a positive way for your body and your mind. Hitting a punchbag can release any stress or anger that you may have built up.
Intense interval sessions release endorphins and it’s a great way to release rage in a safe environment.
Pilates / Yoga
Learning Pilates or Yoga helps you to focus on technique. It is a very mindful activity and can draw parallels to meditation. It is brilliant for stress reduction and relaxation.
The techniques used in these exercises focus on breathing and relaxation which can move your mind into a much calmer state.
Resistance training is a highly effective way to manage symptoms of anxiety according to research published in Sports Medicine. The researchers concluded that strength training could be used as an alternative or addition to therapy for depressive symptoms also.
During National Workouts and Wellbeing Week, Anytime Fitness are welcoming people of all ages and fitness abilities to visit their clubs for free across the UK. So why not get down the gym and try out some of these exercises to work towards a healthier mind and body.
Fry, L – Netdoctor. (2018). 6 best exercise classes for mental health. Accessible: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/mental-health/a28718/exercise-anxiety-depression/. Last Accessed: 25 March 2019.
Hosie, R – Independent. (2018). Lifting weights can reduce symptoms of depression, study finds. Accessible: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/depression-symptoms-weight-lifting-resistance-training-link-mental-health-awareness-week-2018-a8350546.html. Last Accessed: 25 March 2019.
Martynoga, B – Guardian. (2018). What does running do to your brain? Accessible: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2018/jun/21/what-does-running-do-to-your-brain. Last Accessed: 26 March 2019.