Mental Health and Exercise


As a personal trainer in Bury St Edmunds you might well think I’ve overstepped my capacity by writing about mental health, but the truth is the impact i can have on my clients mental well being is the same if not greater than the physical impact.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Healthy body = Healthy mind’ and its true. The body and the mind are intrinsically linked, working together. If one improves so shall the other.

‘But how?’ I hear you ask. How can wearing unflattering Lycra, sweating, grunting and voluntarily putting myself through discomfort make me happier? Well on a basic chemical level our body realises Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins when we exercise. These are the bodies natural ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, chemicals and hormones. It has been referred to as the ‘runners high’, the natural buzz and happiness we get after exercising.

Not only that, exercise also reduces Cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is the stress hormone. High levels affect your memory, blood pressure, cholesterol, lowers immune function and can increase weight gain.

So far so simple. Exercise lowers the sad chemicals and increases the happy ones.

And the stats back this up. 12% of depression can be prevented by exercising for one hour a week. If you increase this to three times per week its rises to 30%!

Just think of the affect this could have on the population and the struggling NHS. If instead of going to our doctor and getting anti depressants hoping for a quick fix, we invested in ourselves and put on our running shoes, went to the gym or dare i say work with a personal trainer.

Don’t get me wrong though. I am fully aware exercise wont work for everyone and severe mental health conditions. As such i never ever recommend anyone change or stop their medication before consulting their doctor. But i do believe it can help many, many people….and I know from personal experience.

As I have written about before my life was very different before i discovered exercise. I did have bouts of depression and took medical advice, which was to take medication. However when this didn’t work i got further frustrated, confused and ultimately disillusioned and depressed.

It wasn’t until i decided to try something new, out of my comfort zone and scary that I got results. By exercising with my triathlon club i got the ‘runners high’ from the happy hormones and my mood lifted and stress slipped away. My self esteem soared as my body shape changed and my confidence grew as i met new like minded people. I was a solitary animal before, making my moods worse. But as a exercised with others and made friends my social circle and support circle grew. I found the fog in my head lifted and i tapped into a new energy source and ultimately a new me.

As a personal trainer in Bury st Edmunds with a background and knowledge of this area i like to thing i am well equipped to help people who were like me, not only with physical but also emotional support.

So on world mental health day I challenge you to give it a go and see if it can work for you also.