As I continue my search for a new role as a Learning and Development Manager one of my constant companions is my Fitbit! That’s because I am very conscious that job searching can be a very sedentary affair at times. So I am making sure that I get the exercise I need and keeping track of the steps I am taking. It’s also helping me to make sure I get the right amount of sleep.
That set me thinking about exercise in general. Exercise doesn’t just make you physically fit, it also helps with our mental well-being. This is a very overlooked benefit of exercise. Everyone knows how exercise can make your waistline smaller; make your heart healthier, etc. But, people forget just how crucial exercising is for your mental well-being. Likewise, just as there are certain exercises that you can use to target certain parts of your body, there are certain kinds of exercises that you can use target your mental health.
From my research there are three types of exercise which are especially helpful.
Aerobic exercises are designed to get your body moving and your heart pumping. A good aerobic workout will exercise a lot of different muscle groups and it will make you build-up a sweat. That last part, in particular, is also why aerobics is good for your mental health. Because aerobics encourages you to move around a lot and because it is such an intensive workout, it really gets your blood moving.
When your blood circulates faster, that means that your cells are getting more oxygen. As anyone who has taken rudimentary biology can tell you, oxygen is what keeps all your cells (including the ones in your brain) healthy and functioning at peak performance. Not to mention the rush of endorphins that are proven to make you feel good!
Yoga is great for your mental health for 2 distinct reasons. Firstly, much like aerobics, yoga gets you moving. It exercises a ton of different muscles in your body and gets your blood pumping (although admittedly, not as fast as aerobics would).
The second benefit of yoga is its calming, stress-reducing factor. Controlled breathing and mental relaxation are big parts of yoga and they have a very positive effect on your mental health. Things like controlled breathing reduce stress and anxiety, which is obviously very good for your mental health.
Yes, grab your Fitbit and get walking because it is great for your mental health. Studies show that outdoor exercise alone is good for your mood. Not only does walking get your blood pumping and help to reduce stress, it also gives you the opportunity to look up and around and experience the amazing scenery and some of the hidden gems in our villages, towns and cities!