Fitness for the mind

Exploring the benefits of exercise for the mind, body and spirit
6 September 2016

Fitness is about more than being physically fit. We believe that a healthy body means a health mind and the benefits of exercise stretch far further than getting ‘beach body ready’.

There have been numerous studies that show exercise can improve our overall wellbeing and our mental health and yet this is still not something commonly associated with physical fitness. 

In ‘The exercise effect’, an article published by the American Psychological Association, Michael Ott, PhD,  a professor of psychology at Boston University, said:

"Exercise is something that psychologists have been very slow to attend to. People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action."

 

People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action
Michael Ott, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University

Exercise releases endorphins, the brain’s ‘happy’ chemical, it stands to reason that those who exercise are happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Some have suggested that the reason it’s so good for our wellbeing is that our self esteem gets a boost when we practise self control. In other words, by taking power over our bodies, we also take control of our minds.

According to NHS LiveWell, exercise boosts your mood, helps you sleep better and lowers the risk of mental health issues and stress.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” said Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

 

If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented
Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant

So are there actually any stats that back up the idea that fitness helps mental health? 

According to NHS LiveWell people who do regular Physical exercise may have: 

  • up to  30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

According to a report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine:

  • people who exercise every day reduce their risk of anxiety and stress levels by more than 40%. 

And according to BHF National Centre,

  • those who are physically fit take 27% fewer sick days.

So the question is, when are you going to give your mind some physical therapy?

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