Mental Health and Exercise

 

 

It’s no secret that exercise is good for our physical health. Stronger muscles and bones, lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, a nice booty.  

 

But exercise doesn’t just deliver those amazing physical benefits - it has a significant impact on our mental health, too. And our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

 

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

Buddha

 

We sometimes like to think of our bodies and minds as independent of each other, but they are not. One of the most significant walls you will break through in a spin class is letting your mind tell your body what it needs to do. This connection is amazing, and it is powerful. Here are just a few stats to show you this powerful connection.

 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA), “those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.” (Source: ADAA)
There is a 20-30% reduced risk of dementia and depression for adults participating in daily activity. (Source: mentalhealth.org, pg 15)

 

Bust the Stress

Studies have shown that active people have lower rates stress. Part of the reason for this is exercise helps you train your brain to better cope with stress. When we encounter a stressful situation, our bodies go into a flight or fight response. Our stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, trigger an increase in our blood pressure and heart rate. Exercise improves blood circulation, which better communicates with the amygdala, or the fear response center of our brains. In turn your body responds to stress in a more mediated way. (Source: The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry)

 

The Mood is Good

Exercise also triggers your brain’s limbic system and hippocampus, which are important to regulating and elevating your mood. Even just 30 minutes of exercise per day is linked to a reduced risk of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. This may be because of the increase in self-esteem and mental wellbeing you feel when you move your body. And according to the American Psychological Association, these benefits are not simply short term - exercise has long-lasting effects.

 

Get Some Shut Eye

Sleep is good for our physical health, obviously. It allows us to rest and recharge. But sleep has a significant impact on our mental health, too. Sleep allows our brains to consolidate memories and process information. Poor sleep increases the risk of mental health issues; however, physical activity can help with that. According to the National Sleep Foundation, just 150 minutes of exercise a week can improve the quality of your sleep by 65%! A good quality sleep allows you brain to rest, repair and prepare; improves your cognitive function and reduces the risk you might experience a mental health illness.

 

Our Favorite Ways to Sweat:

 

We have a lot of athletes who spin with us. (You are all athletes, in fact.) So we find a lot of fun ways to get in some sweat sessions.

1. Try a boxing class at The Sweat Science.
2. Sign up for a yoga class at your favorite studio. We love our local Inglewood studio Junction 9!
3. Get outside and go for a walk in your neighbourhood. (Borrow an adorable dog to make it even better.)
4. Lace up the sneakers and run along the Bow River.
5. Spend a little time with the weights at the gym.
6. And of course, join us for a sweaty ride on the bike.

If you are interested in learning more about the connection between exercise and mental health, check out this great resource from mentalhealth.org.

We are huge believers in supporting your overall health journey, and we hope that this post inspires you to join us for a ride.