How Physical Exercise Boosts Mental Health

It is a strange contradiction that often the very best thing to lift a dark mood is to get outside and do some exercise, when as our mood gets darker physical exercise feels like the very last thing we want to get involved in.

Sometimes pulling yourself out of a low spot can be difficult, and it can be even harder dragging yourself out of the front door to do some exercise. However, exercise is often exactly what your body and your mental health needs.

Doing exercise gets your body working, Your blood will flow faster, your heart will work a bit harder, oxygen will move around your body more effectively. All of these factors result in your body also releasing a number of chemicals and hormones. These are excellent for our bodies, and importantly for our minds.

In addition, having the sun shine on your skin, or rain fall on your face, can instantly lift a mood. Sunshine has incredible properties that bring a smile to our face. Just be careful that it doesn’t bring a burn to your skin!

It Gets Easier

Starting to exercise is hard. The first run around the field is hard. So is the second and the third. But gradually, and then actually quite quickly, it gets easier. Our bodies are not accustomed to moving, especially if you have been living a sedentary life.

As your body gets stronger and fitter, exercise or sport becomes easier. And in addition to this, it becomes more enjoyable. If you have never enjoyed running before, it may seem completely unlikely that anyone could actually enjoy the sport. But once you have been able to reach even a low level of fitness, this baseline means that you will actually start enjoying the activity.

Social Benefits

For those struggling with a low mental state, sport and exercise has the additional benefit of creating a new social space. Joining a sports club opens up a new social world. It creates a space to meet similar minded people, and people who enjoy doing similar activities. This might be at a tennis club, or joining a yoga class, or spending time at a running club.

Even the global phenomenon of Park Run is a wonderful place to meet people who are all outdoorsy people and want to get a bit of exercise. Gyms offer a new community, as do other classes such as aerobic classes or swimming classes.

There is another benefit to joining a community, such as a running group. The spinoff is the sense of responsibility it creates. As an example, often getting out the door is the hardest part, especially when you are in a low mood.

If you are part of a group who run at the same time every day, these people can help support you to get out of the door. Just like a chat room encourages you when you play at online Bingo sites.

A text message saying they missed you, or a reminder of when the group is meeting, can easily create a sense in you that you are part of something. Being part of a social group or community is a wonderful way to find a support group and to feel like you belong somewhere.