Partner Content – How Exercise Can Help Your Mental Health

Brain Feeling Off? Let’s Work It Out!

Sarah Sowards, Club Experience Assistant

Here at Club Fit, we are aware that your focus will tend to be primarily on your physical health and we absolutely applaud you for your commitment to it! However, have you ever thought about the different aspects of your health that exercise is actually helping to improve? It’s not just helping your physical health…Let’s take a second to talk about how your physical activity impacts your mental health as well!

But first what is mental health? Mental health in general refers to one’s psychological wellness surrounding their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Are you able to express an array of your emotions in a conducive manner? Do you form and maintain good relationships with others? Are you able to cope effectively with life stressors? Do you feel good? These are all aspects of mental health! So, what does mental health have to do with exercise? And what does physical activity have to do with mental health? According to research – a lot!

In one study conducted using over 1.2 million participants, analysis suggested that people who exercised, when compared to those that did not, experienced about 43% fewer “poor mental health days” within the last month. Results also indicated that exercising for 30 minutes to an hour three to five times a week yielded the most positive impact on mental health, with activities such as group sports and cycling reporting the fewest mental health issues (Chekround et al., 2018). A review of relevant literature stipulated not only is exercise helpful for maintaining mental health, but that physical activity could potentially have a therapeutic effect on many mental health disorders! Evidence has been found supporting the positive effects of physical activity on disorders such as major depression, anxiety disorders, and even substance use disorders (Wolff et al., 2011). What’s more, a recent study published in the Annual Review of Medicine further upheld the notion that exercise can have a therapeutic effect on mental health, noting that aerobic and resistance exercises have been shown to improve some people’s depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (Smith & Merwin, 2021). An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it seems that exercise three to five times a week helps keep mental health at its peak!

Don’t come work out with us just to “stay in shape” or lose a few pounds or build muscle. Come work out with us to improve all aspects of your health, including your mental health because believe it or not, your mental health is just as important! Don’t believe me? What if I told you the disparities in mental health burden (time/money/productivity lost due to poor mental health) between those who participated in group sports and those who did not exercise were similar to the differences between those with a college degree versus those with a high school degree and between people who differ in household income by $25,000 a year (Chekround et al., 2018)? Poor mental health is costly! Shouldn’t we all do our best to make sure ours is in top shape?

Yes, come work out for your physical health. I will never tell you that is not important. However, I do ask that you also consider the benefits consistent exercise contributes to your mental health as well. You’re doing great things for your body – give yourself credit for doing great things for your brain too! Come try a group fitness class, break a sweat in our cycling studio. Walk the track, shoot some hoops, swim some laps – whatever you enjoy doing here is so much better for you than just nothing, I promise you that. Thirty to sixty minutes, three to five times a week – that’s all you need to improve not only your body, but your mind as well. We’ll see you soon!

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About the Author: Sarah Sowards