OCT 23, 2023
Balancing the Scales: Mental Health Boost with Regular Gym Routines
Throughout our lives we’re inundated with pressures but there’s a place to escape to rejuvenate our mental health - the gym.
Throughout our lives we’re inundated and bombarded with responsibilities, goals, and ever- mounting pressures that, over time, can take a toll on our mental health. However, for many of us, there’s a sanctuary, an escape that offers solace and rejuvenation for our weary minds. The gym.
Ok, some of you are probably laughing and thinking that’s incredibly hyperbolic, but it’s true. Countless studies show there’s a profound relationship between mental health and regular gym routines. But why? And what are the benefits? Well, let’s get into it.
Mental Health Crisis
Without sounding like we’re doom-mongering, there’s a mental health crisis. And that’s not just us talking, the World Health Organization reports there's an urgent need to transform mental health care. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and a spectrum of other mental health issues are seeing a significant upsurge, undermining our quality of life, productivity, and relationships.
So is there something we can proactively do while the world tries to sort itself out? Well, the simple answer is maybe. For centuries philosophers, healers, and thought leaders have advocated a symbiotic relationship between the mind and body. And, as such, regular physical exercise, as facilitated by a consistent gym routine, can be an active powerhouse of mental health benefits. More than just building muscles or enhancing physical endurance, it’s also about nurturing mental resilience, elevating mood, and fostering a balanced psychological state.
Unpacking the Benefits
One of the most immediate benefits of a regular gym routine is mood enhancement. This is because physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins which play a crucial role in combating feelings of depression and anxiety. So as you engage in consistent physical activity, you may find your spirits lifted, and a noticeable improvement in your overall mood and outlook on life.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Exercise is a natural antidote to anxiety and stress. And engaging in a gym routine exposes the body to a low level of stress by elevating the heart rate and triggering a surge of hormonal changes. Then, as your body adapts to this physical stress over time, it becomes more equipped to handle emotional stress. The mind’s response to anxiety and stress is mitigated, leading to a more balanced emotional state.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with sleep disorders. A regular gym routine aids in the regulation of sleep patterns. Physical exertion during exercise naturally tires your body, promoting faster sleep onset, prolonged sleep duration, and improved sleep quality. And it goes without saying that a well-rested mind is more resilient, focused, and balanced.
Beyond the emotional equilibrium, regular gym sessions are a catalyst for cognitive enhancement. Numerous studies underscore the positive impact of exercise on brain functions. Physical activities bolster brain health, improve memory, and enhance cognitive abilities. Meaning each session at the gym isn’t just a step towards a toned body but also a leap to a sharper mind.
Enhanced Self-Esteem and Confidence
The transformative journey of the body, as sculpted and toned through regular exercise, mirrors the metamorphosis of the mind. As you witness physical changes, an intrinsic sense of accomplishment and self-worth blossoms. This enhanced self-esteem and confidence transcends the gym’s mirrors, infiltrating every aspect of life.
Exercises to Amplify Mental Wellness
Cardiovascular exercises are not only really important for heart health but are also significant mood enhancers. Activities such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming increase your heart rate, promoting the release of endorphins and serotonin. Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate- intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly to reap these benefits.
Lifting weights and other forms of resistance training enhance muscular strength and endurance but also boast mental health perks. They improve sleep, elevate your mood, and boost overall mental wellbeing. Why not dedicate at least two days a week to strength training? And try to keep a focus on all the major muscle groups.
Flexibility and Balance Exercises
Yoga and Pilates are exceptional for enhancing flexibility, balance, and mental focus. They combine physical activity with relaxation and meditation, offering holistic benefits. What’s more, these exercises relieve stress, increase body awareness, and promote mental calmness.
Tips to Incorporate Regular Gym Routines
- Set Realistic Goals: Begin with attainable objectives, considering your current fitness level and schedule. Gradually intensify your workouts as you progress.
- Consistency is Key: Establish a routine that is sustainable. Consistency trumps intensity; it’s better to exercise regularly at moderate intensity than to have sporadic bursts of extreme workouts.
- Seek Support: Consider hiring a personal trainer or joining group fitness classes. The support, motivation, and accountability go a long way in maintaining consistency.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals. Balance intense workouts with adequate rest to allow your body, and mind, to recover and rejuvenate.
- Make it Enjoyable: Choose exercises and activities that you enjoy. When the gym sessions become something to look forward to, maintaining the routine becomes effortless.
Bolstering your mental health with regular gym routines can be incredibly beneficial. Each lift, stretch, and jog at the gym resonates and physically leaving your home or place of work to spend time in a building with one focus can work wonders. No distractions, no excuses, just putting in the work. And from this dedication and commitment, you start to see very real and practical results that work wonders. Because if there’s one thing that crushes self-doubt and anxiety, it’s demonstrable proof. Feeling defeated? Feeling flat? Look at the progress you’ve made. Appreciate how frequently you’ve committed to your goals and are well on the way to achieving them. With every visit you’re closer to a stronger, healthier, better you – and that’s something to feel proud of.
Written by Matthew Stogdon
Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.