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Why Exercise is Good for your Mental Health

Hi, I’m Emily. I’m a postgraduate student studying Psychology of Sport & Exercise and in this blog I want to talk about how regular exercise is good for your mental health.

Why Exercise is Good for your Mental Health

The UK, like other countries around the world, have gone into lockdown. Being stuck at home indoors means that people aren’t getting as much exercise as they normally would. I’m going to explain why it’s important to try exercise at home, especially right now.

I am sure that most people are aware that exercise is a good way to stay physically fit and healthy, but in a time like this, looking after your mental health is just as important. Although isolation is associated with many negative things, it provides a perfect time to exercise! Exercise makes you feel good as well as it gives you something to do. Listed below are 5 main reasons as to why exercise may benefit your mental health.

Feel Good Factor

The first reason is that instantly after exercising you are often left feeling happy and positive. Exercise is often associated with the term ‘feel good factor’. That’s because when we exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released. Endorphins leave us with a sense of euphoria which provides an instant positive effect to our mental health.

Social Interaction

Physical activity may also provide an opportunity for social interaction (with people in your house!). Exercising with someone has shown to strengthen social relationships and provide an opportunity for support which is associated with positive mental health. If you have no one to exercise with, there are lots of opportunities on the internet for live online workouts which you can get your friends and family involved in.

Improving Your Sleep

Exercising can also have a positive impact on quality of sleep and sleep pattern. Exercise and a good sleep pattern can contribute to forming a daily routine, which will subsequently improve your productivity and hopefully leave you feeling accomplished. Having a good sleep pattern increases the likelihood of you participating in exercise the next day, which provides more opportunity for physical and mental health benefits.

Sense of Achievement

The next reason why taking part in physical activity is beneficial for your mental health is that it can provide a sense of mastery. When you take on a challenge and succeed, you are left with a sense of achievement and success. This may derive from meeting specific goals you set yourself, for example exercising a certain amount of times a week or making physical progress. Meeting physical goals such as changes in appearance can also increase your self-esteem, leaving you feeling good about yourself. In order to succeed in the goals that you set yourself, ensure they are short-term goals that are realistic and achievable.

Self-Regulation Skills

The final reason why physical activity may benefit your mental health is that it contributes to the development of self-regulation skills and coping strategies. Having good self-regulation skills allows you to appropriately manage your emotions and control impulses. Specifically, these skills can be developed through activities that include relaxation and mindfulness. Yoga is just one activity that is shown to reduce anxiety. As well as managing emotions, self-regulation allows you to control impulses and can contribute to healthy behaviours such as healthy eating which will have a positive impact on your physical health. 

Isolation can be a stressful and boring time, and changes to our daily life means we may lack a routine. Exercise gives you something to do and it makes you feel good! Where possible, exercise outside as being in the outdoors is connected to positive mental wellbeing. If there is a good time to start or continue exercising, now is the time!

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About the Author

Blog Squad student Emily, smiling in a denim jacket

Emily

Hi, I’m Emily. I’m currently studying my masters in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. When I’m not studying, you’ll find me training with the Leeds Beckett cheerleading team. My other hobbies include watching sport and travelling to new places.

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