At last! Spring is finally here and for many of us this often comes with a desire to get outside and enjoy the better weather and longer days.
We can all agree that exercise offers numerous health benefits, from maintaining an ideal weight, to reducing the risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis but how many of us realise just how important exercise is to our mental health?
In short, regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
We feel more energetic, motivated and happier after we’ve been active because during exercise our body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins and serotonin. These are also known as our ‘happy hormones’ as they instantly improve our mood and in turn, our outlook on life.
These wonderful hormones can also work wonders for us in other ways too; they are known to be our body’s natural pain reliever, they help to regulate sleep patterns and can aid appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. Impressive huh?
In fact a study conducted by researchers from Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise to the popular antidepressant medicine sertraline. Interestingly, after four months the researcher found that those subjects who exercised regularly experienced a greater antidepressant effect. It also found that regular exercise did a better job of keeping symptoms from coming back after the depression lifted.
So maybe it’s time to find yourself a new activity?
You don’t need a gym membership or to be an accomplished runner. Whether you call up a friend & suggest a power walk around the local park, start swimming, biking or maybe just walking the dog for longer. You might even turn your favourite tunes up & have your own kitchen disco, it really doesn’t matter!
What does matter is to simply get your body moving and to ideally do this for around an hour in order to activate your happy hormones! Aim for a few times a week and do your best to make it part of your consistent routine.
For us to feel entirely healthy, we need to remember that this means physically AND mentally healthy.
If you’ve tried these tips in the past but are still struggling with low mood or if you’re lacking self-esteem or motivation, speaking with a counsellor can help. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring this more, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I can help.