Fitness for the mind... the mental benefits of exercise16 August 2018
I’ll admit, I love keeping fit and I’d also love to have a super lean, bikini-competition type body. But the main reason I work out is for fitness for the mind because above all I want to THINK well.
Fitness for the mind... as important as fitness for the body
Our minds are very powerful. I learned just how much back in 2013, when I was hospitalised with chronic eczema and couldn’t stop thinking negatively. I discovered one of the first steps to healing was learning how to train my mind into thinking more positively. And I also learned that even in times of despair, this is still possible!
American author and life coach Anthony Robbins says that motion creates positive emotions and I couldn’t agree more. Who else feels fantastic after moving their body? Yes, it can sometimes be difficult during, but afterwards you feel great. I often tell myself ‘you are just a workout away from that feel-good motivation’ which really spurs me on.
Don’t just take my word for it, there is some science behind the mental benefits of exercise, from Harvard Medical School.
In particular, I love this from the article: “The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts...”
So we need endorphins, which exercise creates, to help us feel happy. It makes sense that the NHS recommend those suffering from anxiety and depression incorporate some exercise into their daily lives.
While I have a quite calm exterior, I’m actually quite an adrenaline-filled person, constantly pushing myself because I believe I am capable of so much. But this can backfire sometimes if I don’t meet all my goals, and I start to become anxious. I’ve found the best way to deal with this is to increase my resilience to stress by exercising daily.
This can be anything from a morning walk or a light yoga flow to lifting weights with a PT or just decluttering my room and doing some housework at weekends. Any kind of movement always feels uplifting and energising, even when I’m feeling a little tired.
Believe me, I know that when you’re feeling low moving your body can be the last thing you want to do. But try to focus on how good you’ll feel afterwards, it really is a great incentive. The psychological benefits of exercise really are clear.
I hope this encourages you to get moving. Fitness for the mind really is important. To feel on top of the world in times of difficulty and for fitness to become your best friend. Find what you enjoy, take a friend with you and make it a daily practice. Your mind will soon be saying thank you.
Lots of love, Camille xx