We know that regular exercise is important for keeping blood glucose levels in your target range, managing weight and for reducing risk of other chronic health conditions, but have you thought about how it helps your mind? Think of the positive feeling you get after a workout, or feeling more relaxed after a stroll through the park. Well it is all because of the positive impact that exercise can have on our mind.
When we exercise, we can see immediate positive changes to our mood and our levels of stress. When we exercise more regularly, it can help us in many other ways including:
Improving our sleep
Increasing our energy levels
Improving our memory and thinking
Improving our mood
Improving our stress levels and stress management
A lot of these changes are a result of the feel good hormones called endorphins which are released when we exercise, as well as helping our brain to be healthier and get more blood flow. Regular exercise can also assist in naturally increasing our serotonin levels, which helps to stabilise our moods and make us happier day to day.
Another idea to boost the benefits of exercise for our mind is to get outside near some nature. Natural environments like parks and beaches can have similar benefits for memory, stress and moods as exercise does.
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Here are some ideas for getting started:
Start small. If you aren’t used to exercising, it is better to do something than do nothing! Try a walk around the block and build a routine from there.
Consider planning weekly exercise sessions such as classes or meeting with friends. Routine can make it easier to stick with exercise.
Change it up! Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and you’ll get even more mental health benefits if you can keep engaged with the exercise you do.
Slowly increase the amount of exercise you complete. Eventually look to aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
Best thing to remember is that there is no exercise that is best for your mind. Some people prefer to do calming, slow paced exercise like yoga, while others prefer fast paced running. Different types of exercises can have lots of other benefits, but the best one for your mind is the one that you perform often.
Hayley’s top three exercise tips:
Find something that you enjoy and that you feel positive about completing. It’s always easier to stick with something that is fun!
Sometimes it’s easier to have someone to exercise with. See if a friend or family member can join in with you. It might even help you try something new and meet new people!
Have a talk with your healthcare team if you feel unsure of where to start, or if you are managing other health concerns such as other chronic medical conditions, injuries or disabilities. Seeking help from an Exercise Physiologist can be a great way to learn more about the safest way for you to start exercise.
For a personalised program, let us help you get started.
Petrella, A. F. M., Belfry, G., & Heath, M. (2019). Older adults elicit a single-bout
post-exercise executive benefit across a continuum of aerobically supported