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The Importance of Physical Exercise for Mental Well-being

October is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re elevating the conversation around mental well-being.

Research shows us that fitness plays a big part in achieving the six elements of mental well-being, especially in improving your relationship with yourself and others, independence, personal growth, and development, as well as having a purpose; a dedicated goal. Engaging in regular exercise can have a positive influence on various aspects of mental well-being, including mood, stress levels, cognitive function, and overall quality of life. Schalk Hugo, Founding Owner and CEO of the global gym, Ignite Fitness, shares the top reasons why staying active is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, starting today!

Getting that Endorphine High

Exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals play a crucial role in regulating mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Endorphins, in particular, are often referred to as "feel-good" hormones because they create a sense of euphoria and reduce pain perception.

Less Stress

Physical activity can act as a natural stress reliever. It helps the body better manage and recover from stress by reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Regular exercise can also improve the body's ability to cope with future stressors.

Social Interaction

Many forms of exercise, such as group classes or team sports, provide opportunities for social interaction. Social connections are vital for mental health, as they can combat feelings of loneliness and provide emotional support. “Members exercising in group environments are more likely to achieve their goals, build relationships with like-minded individuals, and exercise more often, resulting in them achieving their personal health, wellness, and fitness goals more readily. With this in mind, at Ignite Fitness, the club layout, the type of equipment, the volume of equipment, and the set-up of areas where our coaches can deliver group workouts have been conceptualised to reach this goal. Together with our studios and arenas, we are uniquely set up to present the widest range of classes for our members. These classes are led by Personal Trainers/Coaches that focus on safe, interval, strength, and conditioning workouts with the latest trends in class structure and equipment.” says Hugo.

Improved Sleep

People who exercise regularly tend to have better sleep patterns. Quality sleep is essential for mental wellness, as it allows the brain to rest and recharge. Poor sleep can lead to mood disturbances, cognitive impairments, and increased stress.

Enhanced Self-Esteem

Achieving fitness goals, whether they are related to weight loss, strength, or endurance, can boost self-esteem and self-confidence. This improved self-image can positively affect mental well-being and help individuals feel more in control of their lives.

Mind-Body Connection

Practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation, which are often incorporated into fitness routines, emphasise the mind-body connection. These activities can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, promoting emotional regulation and self-awareness. “Your subconscious mind is most malleable in the evening and in the morning. This is the best time to rewire your belief system. Before bed or in the evening before meditation/yoga practice, recall 5 things you are grateful for throughout the day, these can be little or big things. The purpose is to attune your mind to look to things to be grateful for. Right when your eyes open (from sleep, meditation/yoga practice) affirm anything you are focusing on manifesting. “today’s going to be a great day”, “Today is going to be full of miracles.” Try this practice for 21 days and watch your whole life change!” says Business and Mindset Coach, Harley Rose Harris.

It's important to note that the relationship between fitness and mental wellness is not one-size-fits-all. However, incorporating physical activity into one's lifestyle can have a significant and positive impact on mental health and well-being. There’s no time like the present!

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