Exercise And Mental Health

Exercise and mental health. The two go together like birds of a feather. Like macaroni and cheese. Like tea and biscuits – as they say here in the UK. I’ve always known exercise was good for us physically, but it’s only in the last few years, I’ve realized it can do so much for us mentally. Pre-AS I used to be a dancer and play a lot of sport.

Exercise can help you feel better

I would be dancing 5 -6 times a week, and also played cricket and tennis – and I always felt positive and emotionally resilient. It struck me one day, that a lot of this was down to how much exercise I did, and also exercise that I loved doing. The effects of exercise on the brain and mental health are astounding. Studies show exercise can make your brain more resilient to depression and depressive symptoms.

Science agrees

I was listening to an episode of Dr Chatterjee’s Feel Better, Live More, where physiotherapist (also lecturer, and researcher) Brendan Stubbs noted from a study that just 10 minutes of gentle walking a day could make meaningful changes in the brain. Brendan provided some seriously staggering statistics from evidence-based studies that all concluded the positive effects of exercise on the mind - and one study showed exercise was just as effective as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

It's a little different now

At the time that I was writing this - before social distancing sent us into our homes - I was going to the gym 3 times a week. I worked through my rehab program for my knee and body, and although adjustments were made quite often depending on how my body was feeling, I was still moving and working, and it had huge effect on my mood, and how my body and mind managed the AS. Since having to self-isolate, the absence of the gym, has made a definite impact on my mood. Therefore I am pledging to keep active during this indoors time – so that the hard work I have put in doesn’t go to waste, that I still manage my body well, and so that I don’t go mad and eat my fiancé, Kev. I’m going to do a little workout/stretch every day and walk around the block.

Do what you can!

I am not suggesting we all go and do high-intensity interval training (wouldn’t it be glorious if we could, and feel great afterwards?!) - even very light exercise is proven to have significant positive effects. How about choosing exercise you’ll enjoy – even dancing to your favorite tunes in your living room (was thrilled to hear Dr. Chatterjee also back this up!), so that it’s an activity you look forward to, as opposed to it being a chore.

Who wants to join me?

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