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Can Exercise Really Affect Your Mood?

Studies have shown that burning around 350 calories, three times a week in sustained, sweat-inducing activity can in fact reduce symptoms of depression and improve your mental health.

When we exercise endorphins including serotonin and dopamine are released into the brain which gives us that feel-good effect and sense of wellbeing we crave.

So why don’t we all just exercise? Well, it’s not always as easy as it sounds, and it’s the balance of a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise where you will really be exposed to the long-term benefits, and that can be daunting at first. Plus, we don’t actually feel that release of endorphins until around 30 minutes after our exercise, and it can be really easy to procrastinate and find excuses not to work out; before that feel-good effect kicks in we have to:

  • Get ready for exercise
  • Travel to where we are exercising
  • Think of the workout structure and exercise we want to do
  • Endure the initial pain and exhaustion before the endorphins hit our system

The thought of having to do all this before feeling any sort of benefit often leads to us talking ourselves out of exercise:

  • I don’t have enough time
  • I’m too busy
  • I don’t enjoy working out
  • It’s boring
  • I can’t afford to workout
  • I don’t know what exercise I want to do
  • I’ll start tomorrow

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, a study by the University of Bristol found that around 80% of people don’t meet the government’s target of taking part in moderate exercise at least 12 times a month. In fact, it also reported that around 1.5 million people fail to do 20 minutes of exercise a day, and the global pandemic and change in lifestyle, as a result, have only made this worse.

Here at Total Fitness, we think everybody is better fitter, so to tackle this, here are our 5 steps to incorporate more exercise into your routine to help towards a happier and healthier lifestyle:

Set a realistic goal

Think of some smaller targets in your first few weeks that work towards your goal to help you achieve long-term progress. Your goal doesn’t have to be to lose weight – everyone has a different reason for working out, whether it’s to get stronger, leaner, fitter, healthier or even just happier and more confident, make sure it’s something that is right for you. You’re more likely to keep this up if it’s something that motivates you.

For example, if you’re goal is to run 10K, start with a shorter distance and build yourself up over time.

Buddy up

Find a training partner or gym buddy – someone who wants to achieve similar things as you, having someone to push you can make all the difference, and make it a little more enjoyable too. It also makes it harder to cancel or avoid your workout, as you’ve got someone meeting you there that’s relying on you to show up.

Exercise anywhere

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and it certainly doesn’t have to take place just in a gym. Think going on long walks and trying new sports with friends and family or making the most out of digital workouts from anywhere. It’s about being active in a way that works for you. When we make exercise fun, it’s so much easier to incorporate it into our routine and it feels much less like hard work.

Prioritise yourself

We’re all guilty of claiming that we don’t have enough time in the day, but prioritising your health and wellbeing is important, and nobody ever regrets the time they take for themselves. With the various ways of working out available, whether it be working out on the gym floor, a class, a swim, or even a digital workout, there are plenty of opportunities to fit a workout into your day around your busy lifestyle.

Experiment with different ways of working out

With so many different workout options and styles, there are plenty to choose from to suit your fitness goals. It might be that you just haven’t found the exercise for you, so try something new and you might be surprised at how much more enjoyable you find it. To find out what’s available here at Total Fitness, discover more about our 8 ways of working out.

If you’re still wondering whether exercise really can impact your mood, why not increase your activity for a few weeks, whether on your own, with a friend, or as a family. Explore different ways of working out that suit you and discover the benefits.

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