The Role of Exercise in Mental Wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week is an amazing way to bring to light a topic that can sometimes be hard to talk about. Although this week has now passed, it still remains a subject that will always be at the forefront of our minds. Our very own founder and CEO, Daria Kantor, has shared her thoughts on the often overlooked role of exercise in one’s mental wellbeing. Daria is an extremely passionate campaigner, we hope her words inspire you:  

‘I read a statistic this week that declared that in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s an overwhelming majority and whilst mental health is more and more regularly addressed, there is still a significant amount to do.

I count myself remarkably happy to have grown up around sport and to have been able to enjoy an active lifestyle. I played competitive sports from the age of nine and although I was always aware that I was never likely to be a professional athlete – it was the mental aspect of the game that I always loved.

Mental Health Awareness Week was the week of May 14th, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. Mental health has always been something I am interested in, conscious of and keen to raise awareness around. It is also an area where in my role as CEO of TruBe, the personal fitness app, I have seen the important relationship between exercise and mental wellbeing. So, what are the benefits?

Tackling Depression & Anxiety

It is interesting and eye opening that in the UK, GPs are now diagnosing exercise as part of a treatment plan to tackle depression. According to one medical study, “physical activity has been consistently shown to be associated with improved physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being.”

Morale Improvement

There is no question that exercise can have a positive impact on your mood and morale. A study, read on the Mental Health Foundation, revealed the fascinating results of a study, when researchers asked people to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity (e.g. going for a walk or doing housework), and periods of inactivity (e.g. reading a book or watching television). Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity.  Exercise is also proven to reduce stress. When we work out, we increase the concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Prevent Cognitive Decline

Mental Health, as a turn of phrase, is such an incredibly broad collection of conditions, issues and demons. However, one area in which studies have shown some real benefits of exercise, is in the battle against Alzheimer’s. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

Battling Addiction

One of the sad truths of those struggling with Mental Health issues is the side effects of their condition. One of the more common of these is addiction, often to narcotics, but really it can be to any number of vices. Not only can exercise be the distraction that your body may yearn for, it can also dramatically reduce an individual’s craving elsewhere.

Mental Productivity

Whether exercise is the switch off you need from work, or the driver behind creativity, there is significant research to show the role of working out in improving an individual’s productivity. In turn, this improved productivity helps the individual battle against their mental health issues, assisting them to tackle situations head on and progress.

Coping Mechanisms

Sport and exercise also enhance an individual’s coping mechanism. Whether that’s a gradual understanding of how to handle defeat, or how to overcome a series of challenges, the mental process required to combat disappointment is invaluable for one’s mental health.

The list could go on. There is the element of human interaction, of team building, of physical improvement. There is, to me, no argument that stacks up against the importance of fitness and exercise in helping people deal with their mental health issues.

I wholeheartedly appreciate that exercise is just one vital ingredient in the a more complex battle. But it is certainly that, vital. I also recommend anyone struggling to visit the websites of the wonderful Mental Health Foundation or Mind. There is help out there and no problem is too small or too large to ask for help.’

We hope Daria’s words have resonated with you. We are here for you here at Trube, whether that be a training session to help get out your unneeded stress or a fitness consultation to help inspire you.

Your TruBe Team