Exercise for Mental Health and Well-being
We know how exercise improves our general Health and Fitness, but along with the physical benefits, exercise can also have a huge impact on your mental health and well-being. Exercise is not only great for the body, but also great for the mind. It’s a mood changer!
There’s a strong link between being physically active and improved mental well-being, especially when we learn that depression is strongly associated with illness and even cardiovascular mortality. People who engage in regular exercise at any intensity are less likely to suffer from mental health problems and there’s a vast amount of research showing that exercise can be as effective as medication when it comes to treating certain conditions.
Physical activity is proven to have positive effects on:
Physical activity that is practised as a group also helps enormously in combating social isolation. During a group activity – such as running, classes, dance, team sports, etc. a person is included and engaged in a group of like-minded people. This helps improve motivation levels and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Exercise really can make you feel better WHATEVER your mood is: Motivated, Tired, Angry, Sad or Stressed, so make sure you plan your workout accordingly. Although you may have a training plan to follow or a class you regularly attend, if you’re not on top form that particular day, change your usual workout for something else to suit your mood. There’s really no point in doing a workout that you’re not going to enjoy as it will only worsen your mood if you fail. If you tailor your workout to your emotional needs rather than physical needs, you’ll not only avoid a meltdown but you’ll enjoy the session much more!.
There’s no point in enduring a gruelling run if you’re feeling really tired – go for a brisk walk instead. If you’re feeling angry or stressed, do some weightlifting or boxing (you’ll give your best punches!). But if you’re feeling at your best that day – give it all you’ve got!.
Sometimes the hardest part of a workout is actually getting started, but lace up your trainers, take a deep breath and just do it – I guarantee you’ll feel better for it!.
What is the best Exercise for me?
Finding the ‘best’ Exercise for you can be very confusing. You hear it all the time “The Perfect Workout Plan”, “The one secret workout you need to lose weight”, “Guaranteed to give you a six pack” and for most people who start a fitness plan they’ll eventually stop either through boredom, exhaustion, or because it just isn’t sustainable long term. There really isn’t the ‘best’ workout! The best workout for you is the one that works towards your personal goals, gets results, fits in with your lifestyle and most importantly that you enjoy doing – because if you really don’t enjoy exercising, you’re not going to stick to it!
To find the right Exercise for you ask yourself:
What are your goals?
Are you exercising to lose weight? to sculpt your body? to gain strength? to increase flexibility? to run a marathon? or just to increase your fitness levels? The type of training you choose should be specific to your goals.
Are you seeing results?
Seeing results is a sure indicator that you’re doing the right type of exercise for your goals and generally getting results from your training will motivate you to keep at it. If nothing seems to be changing how you’d like it to be, you’re probably not doing the right exercise for your goals.
Does your training fit into your lifestyle?
You need to determine realistically, what time you have available for training, can you get to the gym or get out for a run? Does a Wednesday evening class cause childcare issues? etc. There’s no point in a 2-hour training session being part of your plan if you don’t have the time to spare. If you’re short of time, planning in a 20-minute home workout will be far more sustainable.
Do you enjoy it?
Probably the most important factor of all! If you look forward to your sessions rather than dread the thought of them, then you’re more likely to keep at it and it’s the consistency of your workouts that will get you to your goal. So, as soon as you feel boredom setting in and your workout starts becomes a chore, change it around!
So, if you’ve been doing the same workout for months and have stopped seeing results – try something new today!
What exactly is D.O.M.S ?
Aching muscles, sometimes referred to as D.O.M.S (Delayed onset muscle soreness) sets in sometimes 6 to 8 hours after your workout. It may peak around 24 to 48 hours post workout, although this varies depending on the individual. It’s the result of muscle micro trauma, which causes inflammation and soreness, created in your muscles when you’ve introduced a new exercise, activity or increased the intensity or volume of your usual training. It’s your bods way of making adaptations to prepare your muscles to do it again.
Sore Muscles is the most common characteristic of D.O.M.S, but other symptoms such as reduced range of motion and joint stiffness, local swelling and tenderness, and diminished muscle strength can also occur.
How does it occur?
Its the active lengthening of muscle fibres under load (body weight or weights). Think of it like you’re pulling on a rope, and there’s so much force that the rope starts to tear and pull apart. This is when your muscle fibres sustain tiny tears that cause the trauma to them.
When you’ve experienced D.O.M.S before and are a regular exerciser, it may become the Medal after your workout! You’ve pushed yourself and the fact that you can feel it the next day is your reward. However, it doesn’t always mean that you’re not getting a good workout when you’re not crippled the next day. Studies show that muscle soreness isn’t the best indicator of how hard you’ve worked or how fit you are. It’s true that you will start to feel less sore as your body adapts to your training and works more effectively (The reason it’s wise to regularly change your routine) but people also respond differently to pain and soreness.
D.O.M.S isn’t a bad thing!
Muscle trauma is needed to make muscles stimulate protein production and to repair themselves to get bigger and stronger than before so that the muscle soreness doesn’t happen again.
Unfortunately the effects of stretching after your workout don’t always reduce the effects of D.O.M.S. Although while you may not be able to avoid soreness altogether, it’s a good idea to include a warm up and cool-down period as part of your routine. There are other ways to alleviate the symptoms – A massage will move the fluid and blood around in your body which can help the micro trauma in your muscles to heal better, other common ways to treat D.O.M.S include foam rolling, hot and cold showers/baths, Epsom salt, increased protein intake, omega-3 supplementation and sleep. It’s also important to look at your diet to make sure your getting the right balance and enough nutrients to feed your body for the job it’s doing.
There may be times when you overdo it with your workout and feel really bad afterwards. You should be concerned if your level of soreness does not go down significantly after 96 hours, if the pain becomes worse and you start to experience swelling in your limbs, or your urine becomes dark in colour, you should see your doctor. If it’s an injury, you’re more likely to feel it immediately during your workout and you shouldnt ignore this. Soreness, on the other hand, will appear gradually, often the next day.
So although D.O.M.S (unfortunately) can be a horrible after effect of exercise, it happens for a reason – so you can go back and do the workout all over again – this time Stronger!
Every Wednesday 6.30pm at Bricknell Primary School.
Suitable for ALL Fitness levels and ALL Welcome.