Health & Fitness Blog
29 Jan 2024
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
As well as improving your heart, bone and joint health, exercise can also help to improve your mood. This is because during exercise, the body releases more endorphins (the feel-good hormone). This is the feeling you get after exercise and is often referred to as a ‘runner’s high’, but it happens after any form of exercise. And you don’t even have to work out intensely for hours every single day to still feel the benefits!
Beating the Winter Blues:
It is thought that the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect around 2 million people in the UK. It usually occurs during January, after the festive period when everyone has returned to work after the long break, and when there are less daylight hours. SAD can cause you to have low moods, as well as drops in energy and motivation. Exercising and spending time outdoors in natural light is a great way of combating these winter blues and helping you feel re-energised. Mind.org recommends physical exercise to help boost mental wellbeing – check out their website for more information.
Social Exercise has more than just physical benefits:
Another way of combating the winter blues and improving your mental health is social exercise. Planning a session with a group of friends can make exercise feel less daunting, and make you feel more confident. Also, committing to exercise classes with friends means you’re more likely to attend and less likely to avoid it. Exercising with friends (and adding a coffee and a catch-up after!) makes it more enjoyable and less like a chore. Overall, finding a type of exercise you enjoy will help you be more consistent, which will lead to a greater improvement in both your mental and physical health. A great place to start is an exercise class with LivingWell. Our friendly instructors will welcome you and support you through the class, go on, do it! Find out more here.
Short Bursts of Exercise can have longer benefits:
We know the dark January days aren’t very inspiring, but research has shown that as little as 15 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise can have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health and this is recommended by the NHS. So, even a quick 15-minute lunch time walk can have a big impact. And it’s important to remember that frequent short bursts of exercise are better than setting yourself unmanageable goals, that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Plus, it will be easier to make progress and reach those goals, leaving you feeling more motivated through the first month of the year!