Everyone knows that a healthy mind needs a healthy body to reside in. The better care you take of your body, the more your mental health improves alongside it. Does this mean that merely doing any form of exercise will guarantee better mental health? Not necessarily.
There are so many factors that go into exercising, depending on the type, the regimen, and techniques you do, the benefits you get out of the exercise can vary. It’s safe to say that any form of exercise can reflect positively on your general well-being. However, just like well-rounded training regimens need to be followed to achieve your physical fitness goals, if you’re seeking mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits as well, then you’ll have to take a more mindful approach to the exercises you’re doing.
By adopting the right mindset and approach, these 6 exercises will guarantee better mental health.
There is great scientific evidence pointing toward the effectiveness of outdoor activities and exercise in treating various mental conditions, with depression and anxiety at the top of the list. Moreover, if you’re ever stuck in the shackles of a sedentary life and looking for a way to motivate yourself to get your body moving, then there’s nothing like going for a stroll to get you started. You’ll start with a walk which turns into a jog and, soon enough, you’ll find yourself running the streets chasing the infamous runner’s high – which you’ll never get enough of by then.
Not only is it a great total-body workout, because it’s one of the best total body conditioning sports, but kickboxing is also one of the best ways to vent off all your accumulating stress. With nothing but the sandbag in front of you, you get to punch and kick out to your heart’s content until you feel drained. If you ever ask us, it’s the best kind of “drained” you can ever feel. Better yet, you get to imagine all of the frustrations, obstacles, failures, and annoying people in your life and vent out your frustration without getting into any trouble. Next time someone accuses you of having anger management issues, a smile on their face, and a kickboxing session with their face on the sandbag a few hours later.
HIIT training has become quite popular. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a technique in doing cardiovascular training in such a way that maximized the benefits in the shortest amount of time. It’s structured of consecutive circuits of high-intensity cardio exercise intervals directly followed by low-intensity exercises, in a time ratio of 2:1 respectively, and maintaining a moderately high heart rate for at least 25 minutes a day. In addition to blasting off fat and strengthening the lungs and heart, it’s one of the most effective methods in boosting the endorphins, or the natural opioids our bodies secrete, in your system. If you’re looking for a natural way to get high, then this is your gold folks.
Just like HIIT can boost the endorphins in your body, pushing your muscles to their limit can give you the exact same benefits. We know what you must be thinking; but is it safe to visit the gyms right now with the pandemic still going on and all? Following the right procedures and sticking to the safety measures is more than enough to calm your worries. With that being out of the way, resistance training will also help you build a better link between your mind and body, helping in the whole mindfulness process. When all else is said and done, it will help you boost your confidence once you see your physique getting toned.
Whether you’re a bigger fan of exercises that pack more action (resistance training and cardio) or you’re doubtful about the mental benefits of doing Pilates, you’re in for a shock in both cases. Originally, the founder of the Pilates training had named it “Contrology”; describing the way it involves connecting the mind and body together to have perfect control over the movements. Pilates provides a calmer training technique that still works every muscle in your body, giving time for your mind to focus on each as it well deserves.
Yoga is perhaps the most well-known exercise when it comes to mental and spiritual health benefits. This comes from many reasons, such as the way yoga focuses intensely on breathing patterns, the controlled movements, and the mindful meditation it includes. There are various branches of yoga, each focusing on a certain aspect that reflects on your physical, mental, or spiritual health – but you can be sure you’ll benefit from it altogether.
The road of mental health has always been deeply integrated with physical fitness. As you work your way toward creating a stronger, healthier, and fitter body, your mind does the work as well. However, to reap the most benefits out of your journey, make sure to integrate mindfulness into your training regimen as well.
James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.