This article is written by guest blogger, Shelby Foster from
It’s common knowledge that a person might join a gym for the physical benefits. Working out can help you lose unwanted kilos, build muscle, lower blood pressure and gain energy however what most people don’t realise until they have already joined is the mental benefits exercise can bring.
From easing symptoms of depression and anxiety to decreasing stress and improving sleep. There are a heap of mental health benefits from exercising!
Exercise is proven to boost your mood by kicking up your endorphin levels (the bodies “feel good” chemical produced by the brain that produces feelings of happiness). In fact, it is so beneficial that it’s now being prescribed by doctors when working with patients with depression.
Depression can be a really lonely place for someone – by joining in group classes it can give you a sense of belonging, let you meet like minded people who may even become your friends, and who you can hang out with outside of the gym.
When you turn up for our gym class, you are usually greeted with a coach or trainer that is happy to see you. If you have had a stressful day it can be as simple as a happy hello to kick start you de-stress sesh! Then, exercise can force the body’s parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system to communicate, improving the body’s overall ability to respond to stress!
If you have trouble getting a good night sleep, exercise can help with that too. The exact mechanism for why and how this works is not completely understood. However one of the ways scientists think it could work is through the body-heating effects of exercise.
Exercise triggers the body’s temperature to rise which is then followed by a noticeable post-exercise drop in temperature. This drop is what they think may help promote falling asleep. Possibly by positively influencing the body’s circadian rhythm (your internal sleep-wake clock). The additional calming effects of exercise can also help prepare the mind for a better sleep.
In 2020, we saw COVID-19 come along and interrupt our routine. It is normal to feel stress and worry when there is a health event happening in the community.
The worry of infection, being in isolation or quarantine and the worrying of loved ones, can all increase anxiety. Yes, some of us can manage with the support of family and friends but others may need a little extra help to keep things on track.
If you notice a change in the way that you or others around you are thinking or feeling please reach out. Help is available (Lifeline 13 11 14).
Below are just some ideas to maintain positive mental health.
- Keep your daily routine, even if right now it looks a little different.
- Connect and communicate with your friends and family using the wonderful technology we now have.
- Look after yourself with regular exercise. Walking and running are great. There are some amazing online memberships for you to start too. Get in contact with a trainer you like the look of and organise an online session, it may even kick start a new appreciation for exercise that makes you join a gym when this is all over!
- Eat well. This time at home is the perfect time to have a look at your eating. Again, look online and find some healthy recipes. You want to look for well balanced meals – protein, fats and carbs. Now is not the time to over-indulge in alcohol or comfort foods.
- RELAX. Schedule some time to relax and enjoy this quiet time. This could all be over before we know it and life can get busy again so take a moment to enjoy the quiet.
- Limit social media time. There is some crazy stuff going on online at the moment – set your timer on your phone so you can control the amount of time spent online.
Exercise shouldn’t be punishment for your body, it has too many beneficial attributes for it to cause you sadness or pain. It should be a celebration of what your body can do and bring you physical and mental happiness! If it isn’t, maybe it’s time to change things up a little and what better time than NOW!