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#MarchingTowardsMentalHealth – Why Exercise Also Yields Huge Mental Health Benefits

If you’re feeling overweight, self-conscious, and in the general grip of anxiety and depression, exercise might provide an amazing solution for you.

Science has proven over and over that regular exercise promotes physical changes in your brain and releases hormones like dopamine that help you feel better and focus more. But even though these physical changes can promote better mental function, the feelings of pride in yourself and kinship with others on the same journey provide benefits that you can’t test in a lab.

We look at the mental benefits of exercise.

A word from Adam Felman, a member of Project Spartan and former anxiety outpatient

As someone with well-documented social anxiety and depression, the idea of putting myself in a position where I felt vulnerable (i.e., working out) every day has always been out of reach.

Once I began brushing up against and hurdling my physical fitness barriers (slowly, and one at a time), I found that mental ones started to give way, too. As I hit targets, I found myself feeling more confidence, drive, and self-love than ever. The community support has been amazing, too.

In the first 6 months of Project Spartan, it’s driven me to make profound and (so far) enduring changes in my personal life that are pushing me to become calmer, more contented, and more proactive about what matters. In short, I no longer freak out when I see my reflection.

A dedicated approach to exercise has become central to the fortification of my mental health.

How exercise can help mental health

Your mental health depends on many different factors, including genetics, your immediate environment, and distressing events in your life like grief and trauma. One element almost entirely within our control, however, is how much we move – and how much better than can make us feel.

Exercise can actively help us manage mental health conditions.

Exercise might also help people manage mental health conditions.

A 2021 review found that a whole host of research links aerobic exercise to positive mental health outcomes, especially for managing the effects of anxiety and PTSD. If studies are touting exercise as a future treatment for some mental illness, perhaps it’s time to implement physical activity in your daily routine outside of a diagnosis.

Exercise helps our brains work more efficiently.

In a 2018 review, research generally supported the ability of exercise to improve memory and attention span, as well as promote more efficient blood flow to and from the brain.

The review found that in younger people, exercising often can boost academic performance. For older adults, it decreases your risk for dementia during aging. 

While more research is needed, strengthening our mental health isn’t just about how we feel, but about how we can tend to our own lives and focus on what really matters. Once we can attend to these and empower ourselves, our mental health issues may start to improve.

Exercise can promote higher-quality sleep.

Sleep is a cornerstone of sturdy mental health, and sleep disorders like insomnia can go hand in hand with conditions like anxiety. (Ever lay awake at night, too worried to get to sleep?)

Good news: exercise can help you get to sleep faster, spend longer asleep, and have higher-quality sleep (i.e. spending more time in a deep sleep) than those who have a sedentary lifestyle.

And according to recent research during the pandemic, stress, anxiety, and depression are more commoon in people who have poor sleep hygiene.

What are the best exercises for mental health in Worthing?

Research is mixed on which types of physical activity are best for your mental health. Research has singled out aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming, or cycling as particularly beneficial for managing depression and anxiety. Yoga is another physical activity that, due to its maintained focus on calm, patience, and deep breathing, has shown proven effects against depression and anxiety.

The verdict? The best exercises you can do to support your mental health are those you enjoy the most that also help you reach your health goals. Simple. The best way to generate consistency in your routine is to enjoy it – so whether it’s jogging, boxing, dancing, or even gardening, learn what feels good for your body and keep at it.

Exercising in groups might be best for your mental health

Research from 2021 studied how people in China responded to the pandemic emotionally, and over 14,000 participants self-rated certain aspects of their fears around the pandemic, like acquiring the infection or their children missing out on education due to school closures.

People who do 30-60 minutes of group activity had the highest associations with better self-reported anxiety scores.

With the world in a consistently precarious place, working out with your buddies helps you understand that someone has your back and supports your healthy decisions. Plus, that “enjoying exercise” thing? That tends to happen more when you work out in groups.

How can Project Spartan support your mental health?

Project Spartan is dedicated to helping you regain control over your insecurity and anxiety in the following ways:

  • We provide a supportive, inclusive, ego-free community, including online groups, guided group training, and even the occasional breakfast together. (Pastries and all.)
  • Part of our programme membership includes a weekly yoga session – a type of movement and breathing with proven mental health results. 
  • We set targets through consultations and help you reach them, meaning that you’ll feel that burning sense of accomplishment all the way through your progress at Spartan. Watching your body shape change through in-depth 3D scans is a huge motivator.

Get in touch today about our programs and membership tiers that can fit any budget.

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