Stressed? Hit the gym!
How the gym and mental health connect
By Brad Cordero, Contributor
By now, everyone is aware that exercise is beneficial to the body.
It allows you to build muscle, burn fat and help you feel just a little better than before exercising. But what many may not know, is that exercise has also been seen as a very effective way to improve mental health.
On average, people who regularly exercise experience better sleep at night and an often see an improvement in mood among with other mental health benefits.
Shelly Stranaghan, a customer experience team lead at Mount Royal Recreation says, “when you exercise, endorphins are released. Those endorphins help with many things, from your mood to anxiety, and things like that, they’re like mood boosters.”
Along with lifting your mood and improving your cognitive function, working out on a regular basis carries some massive mental health benefits. For example, are you angry? Go to the gym. By going to the gym, your body releases all the pent-up energy and muscle tension and leaves you feeling refreshed.
Furthermore, exercise is an excellent combatant for stress. When we exercise, the body releases endorphins in the brain, our muscles begin to relax, relieving tension throughout the body.
Exercise requires us to focus on very specific ranges of motion, leaving no time for us to think about whatever may be bothering us and momentarily allowing us to clear our heads, focus and accomplish a task.
Generally, going to the gym by yourself has its perks. But going with a friend or a small group can greatly affect the mood of your workout. When you’re by yourself, it’s just you and the weights, no motivators and nobody to joke around with.
Just you and the iron, which can be intimidating for some people, especially if they’re new to the gym scene.
In accordance with a study from National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), exercise has also been seen as a great way to relieve anxiety, even being compared to being as effective, if not better than medication for some people.
Depending on the frequency and structure of your exercise, it can have immediate, or even long-term positive impact on how you feel.
But like many things, different people react to things differently. It’s up to you on whether or not you think this is the route you need to take in order to cope.
In 2016, 29 per cent of MRU students had reported “personal health issues” to be traumatic or very difficult to handle, according to Stranaghan and MRU rec .
One point of action that has been taken by MRU is their “Steps to Well-Being” program.
Students who have visited health practitioners on campus can be referred to the program and are given five free sessions with a personal trainer at MRU.
Although exercise may not be a method everyone would want to try to relieve stress, among other things, there are many other types of exercise you can do to help your state of mind, like yoga for example.
Even though yoga is still fairly physically demanding, it allows for the body to stretch and move and teaches better breathing habits, a problem many who suffer from anxiety might find all too familiar.
The world is a scary place, but sometimes, the best thing we can do is forget about our problems for a couple of hours and get moving.