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Fit Body, Fit Mind

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Fit Body, Fit Mind

We all know the benefits of exercise on our bodies: weight-control, healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, strong bones, healthy blood sugar levels, respiratory and cardiac health…but anyone who has a regular fitness regime will also appreciate the positive affect on mood and mental well-being.

Even if you don’t suffer from depression, your mood will be lifted after exercise. Regular exercise can give your mood a serious boost and, if you do suffer from mild to moderate depression, it can make a massive difference to how you feel.

So, what’s the science behind this?  Exercise and physical activity produce endorphins – and we love endorphins! Endorphins can create a natural high. They relieve pain, activate cells that boost the immune system, delay the ageing process and reduce stress.

When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well, producing symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, poor concentration and decreased overall cognitive ability. It is simple: if your body feels better, so does your mind and vice versa.

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In a recent poll of Bee-Fit members on what motivates them to work out regularly, many of them mentioned the stress-busting benefits, improved sleep and better concentration as reasons enough to maintain a regular exercise programme with us.  In fact, surprisingly, more members cited this benefit than those who talked about weight loss as a principle motivator. Considering 99% of our members join Bee-Fit to lose weight (and they certainly lose weight and keep it off here at Bee-Fit), it just shows how noticeable the mental health benefit is.

Writing for the NHS, Dr Alan Cohen, a GP with special interest in mental health writes:

“Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it. Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.”

It’s great to find that improved mental health is an added bonus to physical fitness, but what about if you’re actually depressed?  When you’re depressed, motivation to do anything is usually generally low, plus, you’re likely to have low energy and the last thing you feel like doing is exercise. If you’re in this fug, treat the idea of exercise as part of your treatment programme, knowing that it is likely to make a massive difference to your state of mind and to your general well-being.

  • Find a physical activity that you’re going to enjoy and find a friend or family member to do it with.
  • Put regular sessions in your diary: make it a serious commitment to your well-being and stick to it. At Bee-Fit, all our members are booked in for their next session before they leave the gym: they can call and change it if they need to but we know that making the commitment in the gym diary makes a huge difference and members often say to us that they didn’t really feel like coming but they were booked in so they did!
  • Keep track: Make a note of your fitness and general mood when you first start and review it every month so you can see the progress. As you feel and acknowledge the benefits, you’ll find it easy to stick to a fitness regime.
  • Get a personal trainer or join a class where you get direction, support and feedback. When you have professional help, not only will the exercise be safer and more effective, but you will be accountable to someone – and accountability is known to be a strong motivator.

If you’re already enjoying all the benefits of regular fitness and you know someone who seems to be feeling low, why not do them an enormous favour and take them to the gym or along to your exercise class with you?  It’s no exaggeration to say that you could change a life.

Bee-Happy, Bee-Healthy, Bee-Fit

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