The Mental & Physical Health Benefits of Exercise
Updated: Oct 9
With so many restrictions as part of a new normal, COVID-19 has greatly dampened our moods, and we are all affected one way or another. According to The Straits Times, “the National Care Hotline set up to offer extra support has seen more than 6,600 calls by the end of the month its launch on April 10”. Ms Vivienne Ng, chief psychologist at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, also noted that prolonged circuit breaker measures could have an impact on mental health.
The circuit breaker that was imposed back in April 2020 has restricted us to just sitting at our desk with the same four walls all day. Even though working from home allows us to attend meetings online in our comfortable lounge pants, sitting for long periods of time is bad for our health. A study has called sitting as the new smoking, whereby prolonged sitting is associated with diabetes and social anxiety. If you are guilty about not exercising enough, it is not too late to start. You do not need to be in the gym 24/7 to reap its benefits, as even a modest amount can make a significant difference to your overall well-being/health.
Working from home is not a choice for everyone, so here’s some desk stretches that might sit well with you.
We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, being physically active can keep your mental health in check. The benefits of exercising are exhaustive, and it is not limited to just physical health only! Exercise is not just about gaining muscles or getting that abdominal V-line to show off at the beach. Exercising regularly makes people feel more energised and ready to take on the day. Aside from having better sleep and feeling more refreshed, it is also an effective solution to combat mental health challenges too. Many researches have discovered that exercise is almost as effective as an antidepressant which helps with depression and anxiety.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
Exercising helps to ease depression and anxiety
Exercising acts as a stress reliever
Exercise can boost your self-confidence
Exercising helps you get a better night’s sleep
#01 - Exercising helps to ease depression and anxiety
A little exercise each day can help keep depression and anxiety at bay. This is because exercise is an all-natural depression fighter that energises one’s spirit while moving one’s attention away from negative thoughts linked to depression. Physical activity promotes the release of certain chemicals in your brain, which is responsible for elevating your mood and helping you feel calm. It was found that this effect is the most significant when one was initially feeling down.
#02 - Exercising acts as a stress reliever
During stressful times, a surplus of stress hormones will be released, triggering your ‘fight or flight’ response. This will translate into excessive sweating and an increase in your heart rate. Additionally, you will likely have tense muscles in the neck and shoulders, not forgetting intense migraines which don't seem to go away. The discomfort from these physical symptoms creates even more stress, and this will become a vicious cycle.
Regular exercise has been proven to break the cycle of stress. With our mind and body as powerful allies, physical activity can help relieve tension and ease your stress levels. When you feel revitalised after hitting the gym even for a quick workout session, you will subsequently achieve a better state of mind too.
#03 - Exercise can boost your self-esteem
Most of us probably have experienced low-self esteem from time to time, and we will get trapped in the downward spiral, leading to an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The good news is that exercise can make you feel better by providing you with a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing more satisfying than hitting milestones which shows that you are getting closer to achieving your fitness goals. This increases your emotional stamina to deal with any other challenges in life - you will feel like nothing is impossible!
#04 - Exercising helps you get a better night’s sleep
Lastly, physical activity is one of the best ways to get a better night’s sleep. Did you know that the effects of aerobic exercise on sleep appear to be similar to those of sleeping pills, minus the side effects of taking sleep pills? Researches have shown that exercise can significantly increase sleep duration and improve the quality of one’s sleep. Exercises, notably aerobic exercise, helps to regulate your body clock by controlling the amount of chemicals such as serotonin present in your brain. Thus, individuals who are physically active are less likely to experience insomnia.
When you are feeling mentally/physically exhausted, exercise is probably the last thing you feel like doing. However, a little bit of exercise each time goes a long way. Sticking to an exercise routine is challenging and requires a good dose of self-discipline. For those who couldn’t escape the nine-to-five grind or full-time students with endless submission deadlines to adhere to, exercising moderately for as little as 2.5 hours a week is better than none.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine may seem intimidating with so much to consider - costs, possible injuries, fear of failure - but if you never try and take that first step out of your comfort zone, you will never know. For a start, you can try a 10 minute workout and then gradually work your way up to longer workouts with higher intensity levels.
On the other hand, some individuals may start with unrealistic fitness goals instead of small, attainable ones. Being too ambitious will only leave you disheartened if you fall short. Regardless of which category you fall into, you can always hire a qualified personal trainer to put you on the right track. You can share your personal needs and considerations with your trainer, and he/she will curate a fitness routine so that you are able to seamlessly fit a workout routine into your life, without compromising your social life.
With the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affecting the mental health of many individuals, it is important for us to seek mental health professionals for support if needed. We should all look out for one another and be more mindful of those around us. Adapting to change and being resilient can be a difficult process, but we should not overlook our physical and mental health.
Exercising is still possible even though you can’t get outside. Not sure of where to start? You can drop us a WhatsApp message at +65 8812 0110 to book an online personal training trial (or an in-person trial session, whichever you feel most comfortable with) with one of our dedicated trainers to kickstart your fitness journey during tough times - this healthy habit will definitely help you even far beyond this global pandemic.
In the meantime, be safe and stay healthy!
At FITLUC, we specialise in In-Person and Online Personal Training, and we also offer house-call PT with a small additional fee. We currently base our Personal Training clients at a well-equipped partner gym just a stone's throw away from Outram Park MRT.
We are recognized as one of the Top 12 Best PT in Singapore and were featured on Mothership, The Straits Times, YES 93.3FM, Yahoo News, etc. We have worked with clients aged 13 – 84, from Celebrities to CEOs, working professionals and homemakers, with goals ranging from fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain to athletic performance and elderly training. Our celebrity clientele includes Maxi Lim, Hazelle Teo, Tayying, Lee Teng, Ze Tong, Benjamin Tan, Royce Lee and more.
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