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Exercises for mental health

Be fit, Be well

Some physical exercises for help with mental health

Fitness

One of the key points all experts agree on is that exercise is good for your mental health. Here David Wiener, training specialist for fitness app Freeletics, gives his recommendations.

When you suffer with mental health issues, getting out of bed can feel hard enough. But on the flip side, exercise is an incredibly useful tool to help combat some of the symptoms. This is because when you exercise you release ‘feel good’ hormones, endorphins, which help reduce negative feelings and improve your mood. In addition, exercise can provide a distraction, helping to break up thoughts and feelings which can contribute to poor mental health, leaving you calmer and clearing the mind.

The best workouts to boost your mental health include:

1. Walking Outdoors

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or induce a sweat to be effective, especially if you’re trying to boost your mood. A walk in the great outdoors can be a great way to combat depression and can really help to clear your mind which can positively impact on your mental state.  There’s also research to suggest outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.

2. Boxing

Boxing can help to relieve muscle tension that can collect when you experience stress. As you continue to punch, you will find your focus is improved, increasing your concentration and helping you forget the reasons why you are stressed. In addition to building physical strength, boxing can help to make you feel more powerful mentally and give you the fighting spirit to enable you to deal with any of life’s more challenging situations.

3. Yoga

One of the main ways yoga helps to create better mental health is by integrating the body and mind.  This practice can help users to understand what they need physically, mentally and emotionally. The continued focus on the breathing can also help to restore a sense of calm and instigate a parasympathetic response from our nervous systems.

4. Running

Running is a fantastic way to boost your fitness levels quickly, and for that reason, it’s incredibly rewarding.  Also, the repetitive nature of running can provide a great escape from your everyday life, giving you something simple to focus on, but also a personal goal or objective to achieve. Lastly, running requires very little equipment and it can be done any time of day, so when things start to stress you out, lace up your trainers and head outdoors.

5.Resistance Training

Lifting weights or bodyweight exercises can have a huge impact on how you feel and look; building muscle and self-esteem, as well as curbing anxiety. Researchers have also linked resistance training to less shrinkage of your white matter, the tissue that connects and passes signals between different brain regions. This network of nerve fibres can develop holes and lesions as you age, potentially leading to degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. But lifting weights twice a week can slow this process, safeguarding your mental health both now and in the years to come. If you’re keen to incorporate this type of training into your exercise regime, fitness apps like Freeletics (www.freeletics.com) can be a great place to start, showing you body weight and resistance training exercises and workouts which can be done from the comfort of your own home, and making sure you use the right form to avoid injury. In addition, Freeletics is known globally for their ‘community’ which can add a valuable social aspect to this type of training to provide support and motivation, further boosting your mental health.

6. Team Sports

Team sports or group fitness classes are another great way to boost your mood as they allow you to socially interact with others while you get fit. This could be any team sport like football or hockey, or a gym class like circuits or spin. For many people the social side can be just as valuable as keeping your body in shape.

By David Wiener, Training Specialist for leading fitness app Freeletics (www.freeletics.com

Dizraeli

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