I think we’ve all heard on the telly, or on social media, some doctor or PT telling you that exercise isn’t just for your physical health BuT It AlsO HaS mEnTaL HeALtH BeNeFiTs (which it does) and you probably thought “yeah yeah heard it all before, anyway I hate the gym” and switched to a different channel.
It is very true that when we exercise; we release endorphins (or happy hormones) into our bodies, which make us feel good. Other benefits that come from exercise include things like improved sleep, increased energy, and better endurance (hello getting to the top of the stairs without feeling like you’re gonna pass out). These will all improve your quality of life, which more often than not will improve your mental health.
Movement and exercise can also help relieve pain and discomfort from injuries, or chronic illnesses and in some cases, completely reverse the effects of some conditions (always consult a doctor if you suffer from any chronic illnesses before undertaking any exercise programme).
And yet many people still aren’t sold on the idea of it, so I wanted to share with you 3 ways exercise can improve your mental health that you’ve never even thought of.
- Grounding – So this is going to sound very hippy dippy but there is a lot to be said for touching grass (literally), or being out in nature, we spend so much time in front of screens or following people online, It can be very easy to lose sight of what’s real, Doing a workout, going for a walk, going swimming or even just spending time with your horse without any distractions is a great way of doing this. This means no headphones, no phone, just you doing whatever activity you are doing and taking it all in. The feel of the air (or rain) on your skin, How it all smells (just maybe not at the back of the horse) how everything feels. This can completely change how you experience many things that you often take for granted. Give it a go, you may notice things that you’ve never realised were there.
- Social interaction – This could be going to a gym class, playing 5 a side with your mates or even just meeting a few friends for a walk/ or hack. Even planning to meet some other people from your yard when you ride for a chat when you’re tacking up or warming up. Not only are you getting some movement in at a pace that you enjoy, you get to talk to other people, vent about things that are bothering you and listen to what’s bothering them too, A problem shared is a problem halved.
- Self-confidence – have you ever done something you never thought that you could do? How did you feel after? Probably like you could take on the world. When you exercise over time you will see these types of improvements and you will feel better each time. If you take part in a sport look back now on the different things that you achieved over the years that you never thought that you would do. Write them down and you will see just how far you have come. It’s very easy to lose sight of how much you have learned/ changed in that time if you have been comparing yourself to other people around you who are doing better. Remember comparison is the thief of joy so take some time to reflect on your own progress in isolation, you may be surprised by what you find.
I hope you enjoyed my alternative take on how exercise can benefit your mental health, would love also to hear any of your own takes too, what have you gotten from exercise that you never thought about when you started? Our physical health and mental health go hand in hand, if one suffers so does the other, January always sees a big increase in those who want ” to get back to it” when it comes to training, but we need to remember this is something we need to look after all year round. Having these reminders can really help you through when times get tough.
If you are struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. They could be a friend or a professional and likewise if you are worried about someone else’s mental health give them a call and ask “How are ya?”