Exercise your mental health

Posted March 8th, 2021

With the news that The Thames Club gym, pool and classes can re-open soon our spirits have certainly lifted! It goes without saying that exercise is great for physical health and it’s probably why most people start a fitness regime or sporting hobby. However, working out is key to positive mental health too. It can boost your mood, tackle depression or anxiety and improve sleep. In our latest blog, the fitness focus is on the mental health benefits you can reap from regular activity, whether you’re swimming, in the gym, in yoga or anything else.

We’ve created our own MENTAL health benefits acronym standing for Memory, Esteem, New ideas, Time, Alleviating and Lifting. Read on to learn more about each of these.

M stands for MEMORY as exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent degeneration of the hippocampus (part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) – wow. Exercise can help keep your mind sharp and reduce age-related memory lapses, as the more you use your brain, the stronger it is. Whatever exercise you undertake, you’ll be using brainpower for tasks like concentration, listening, co-ordination, following instructions etc. M can also stand for MORE… more of the good stuff like energy, motivation and happiness.

E stands for ESTEEM. Your self-esteem can increase hugely when you’re working out, whether that’s from achieving personal goals, immersed in a nurturing environment or experiencing changes to your physique that make you feel more positive. If we all encourage each other, that’s a massive boost too. Win-win.

N stands for NEW IDEAS. When you find yourself in a creative rut or you’re having a particularly unproductive day, fitting in even a short exercise session can erase a negative mood and get your creative juices flowing. The change of scenery (and fresh air if outdoors), endorphins, movement, plus blood, oxygen and nutrients flooding the brain are all contributors. Ever been hit with inspiration in the gym or on a run? Then you’ll understand!

T stands for TIME to refocus and recharge mentally, as well as physically. You deserve (and need) time away from work or other responsibilities even though it can feel like you never have enough time! It’s important to invest in your health through ‘me-time’ which can be energetic or calming from one day to the next. It’s a personal choice – whatever makes you happier, healthier and more positive.

A stands for ALLEVIATING. Exercise can alleviate various mental troubles such as insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. It improves mental clarity and sleep quality (often by mitigating the associated stress or anxiety), releases feel-good endorphins, and if you’re working out with others, the social interaction can help too. Some people will benefit from a heart-raising cardio workout and others will find yoga or meditation works better by slowing the heart rate and focusing on breathing techniques. Exercise may even prevent anxiety from developing in the first place. Medical advice should always be sought for anxiety disorders or severe depression, however.

L stands for LIFTING. This inspiring word is just so fitting for mental health. Exercise lifts your mindset, your confidence, your decision-making ability or can even lift a virtual grey cloud hanging over you. Just 30 minutes of regular exercise can lift you from feeling sluggish to feeling on top of the world.

We hope March is full of the joys of spring, as we build resilience and look forward to being back at the club. This month try and take the time to focus on the mental health benefits of your workouts to motivate you through tough times – we’d love to hear how you’re getting on.

As it stands currently, the gym and pool are scheduled to re-open on 12th April and the Hot Yoga Club and The Thames Club Classes on 17th May.

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