Be Strong, Be a Warrior – Exercises for Mental Health

We all know exercise is good for mental health but how many of us actually do it? To be a strong mental health warrior, exercises for mental health should be at the top of your list of things to do to improve the functioning of your body and brain.

I’ll be taking a holistic approach to exercise and the benefits it will give you. Now I’m not one for running about and jumping, but even though exercise is good for me, I really have to force myself to do it, as mentioned in previous articles. I’m not a natural athlete, more of a doughnut, but I know I need to do it.

exercises for mental health
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It used to irk me when the doctor used to say you need to exercise; I used to think, “don’t they know I’m ill? I can’t just get on a treadmill and run!” And it is true when I am really unwell, the last thing on my mind is exercise, but I still try to do some, even if it is just swirling my arms about, it sounds pointless, but it does get the blood pumping and can elevate the mood.

The exercises for mental health I will be covering are all easy to do, and I have researched their benefits. I hope most of you will be able to do them even if you feel like crap.

Exercises for Mental Health

exercises for mental health work out gear

I’ve added some videos to help you work out; I’d like to say they are me, but I’m awkward in front of the camera, and I’m not an exercise expert. I am a doer, not a teacher. You don’t have to use all the suggestions, pick the one which seems the most enjoyable to you.

Pilates

I had never tried Pilates before, and now I will be attempting it once a week as I think I could enjoy this form of exercise. I discovered in my research that it is meant to be good for mental health because it promotes mood-boosting via the releasing of feel-good endorphins which reside in your brain.

According to a research paper on Springer Link:

… exercise and physical activity have beneficial effects on depression symptoms that are comparable to those of antidepressant treatments.

Springer Link

That is a bold statement to make, but the research backs it up. Although it relates to any form of exercise, Pilates will also increase your confidence in your body’s abilities, which in turn will boost your self-esteem.

Watch the video below and see if you can do Pilates, there are a couple I have to avoid because of my arthritis, but most of it I attempt.

Weight Training

Weight training is my go-to form of exercise when I don’t have much energy, as I can do it from the comfort of my sofa with some handheld weights. Sometimes, I have energy for some bicep curls, but that is enough if I feel unwell.

The exercises for mental health I have outlined are the simplest versions of the activity because I only do simple. However, they will benefit you, and weight training can be fun.

You don’t need a lot of space to weight train, and the weights can be stored in a corner, out of the way. You can pick them up second-hand quite cheaply off of auction sites or your local ads paper. My weights come with a handy little rack and are brightly coloured, and they cost me less than £20.

I also have a weights bench in my shed. However, this is gathering dust as there are too many spiders in the shed for me to work out comfortably. It would be too stressful and defeat the object. So I stick to handheld weights and sit on the edge of the sofa doing bicep curls, tricep kicks and a few others.

Yoga

Ok, first off, I’ve tried yoga, and it is not really for me because I can’t get my arthritic feet in position. However, the positions I can do are beneficial to my mood. Once again, the release of endorphins means it is one of those exercises for mental health that will benefit you.

I did buy a special yoga mat when I first started, but now I use the rug in my living room as I cannot be bothered to dig the mat out every day.

This is one exercise I have to force myself to do, even though I know I will feel a bit better after doing so. According to research and a study on NCBI:

Results from this study show that yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.

NCBI

Wow, what can’t yoga do?

So you see why I try to incorporate some of the moves into my exercise schedule because of the overwhelming benefits.

If you have never tried it before, then the video below is for complete beginners, and I class myself as one of those as I need the exercises to be simple; otherwise, I will not do them.

Cycling Indoor or Outdoor

This exercise has no video because most people know how to ride a bike, and if you don’t, then a stationary bike is the best option for you to go for. You can even buy a set of peddles so you can cycle from the comfort of your sofa. I did many years ago buy one of these, but I have wooden floors, and it kept slipping, so I changed up to a proper exercise bike.

Sometimes I even use my weights simultaneously as cycling, saving me time and giving me a more intense workout. As I’m peddling, I use my arms with the weights for an extra hit of endorphins.

For those of you who are fitter than I, you might want to consider spinning classes; these are high-intensity stationary bike classes. You’ve probably seen the adverts on TV for companies offering this service in your own home. I have never tried this as I am not fit enough, and it would be a waste of money.

The benefits of cycling on mental health are the reduction of stress by releasing the chemical cortisol. Which can improve memory function; this is great for those who suffer from brain fog.

In Summary

Any form of exercise will be great for your mental health; it is not a cure you will still need to address your mental illness issues. However, it can alleviate the symptoms for the time being, and over time, you will look forward to the exercises for mental health because of the release of feel-good hormones.

Peace & Blessings

Lou

i'm not a doctor

Lou Farrell

Welcome to the mental health blog of Lou Farrell. I am a writer and copywriter who pens all manner of articles relating to mental wellness and mental illness. I write about my own experiences and the knowledge I have gained over the years as someone who has bipolar disorder. I hope you enjoy the website :-)

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2 Responses

  1. I’m looking into finding new ways to improve and take care of my mental health so this was super useful. I have often wondered about yoga and think some beginner moves might be possible. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. You included great points and options to choose from. I agree exercise is beneficial in so many ways. It’s important to do what you would enjoy doing while exercising to stick to it.

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