Before self-isolation became the new norm, seven out of ten adults suffered from some form of daily stress, so with everything going on right now,that number is bound to be on the increase. But the good news is, by keeping your body moving, you can help to keep anxiety and associated stress at bay – and you don’t even need to leave the lounge room.
Exercise has huge benefits in helping to combat stress and anxiety. It’s science! Physical benefits of getting, ah, physical include fighting disease and illness, which is one thing we’re all mindful of right now. But aside from that, doctors encourage us to stay active to maintain our mental fitness, as studies show regular exercise can reduce stress, fight fatigue, improve your mental stimulation, help you stay alert and sharp and improve overall concentration. Doctor Amy Imms, founder of The Burnout Project, says “Physical and mental health are so intertwined that it’s impossible to really address one without the other.”
When we’re stressed, the whole body can feel the strain. “Regular movement of our bodies has a profound effect on our mental health. It releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’ chemical), and also increases our levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood. Together, these chemical changes in the brain help make people feel better by reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.”.
You probably already notice that you’re able to sleep better if you’ve exercised that day, and those amazing little chemicals in the brain that act like painkillers and produce happiness also help us get a good nights’ sleep,and in turn, reduce stress after waking from a restful slumber.
When we’re anxious, we tend to get that feeling of fight or flight. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, chances are, it made you want to get up and run away from whatever situation you were in. But you can easily channel that nervous energy into exercise, which can also help to take your mind off things that cause you anxiety, especially during activities that require a certain amount of concentration – like a dance workout!
It’s not always possible to get out and go for a walk or a run, especially if you have a family who are self-isolating of if you’re working from home or home schooling. And let’s face it, jogging can become boring, even when you’ve got some great tunes or an engaging podcast in your ears. So, let’s focus on what you can achieve in your very own home.
Dancing Away from Anxiety
Strictly You is one of the only online platforms to blend traditional exercise with the best of dance – and every day, you’ll get a different full-body workout in under 25 minutes. Suitable for beginners and dance floor pros alike, each of the routines have been choreographed and designed for max fitness by our qualified dancers and trainers and are super easy to follow along to from home. The routines will keep your brain busy,which will help to keep your mind from wandering into anxious territory. You’ll be burning calories and concentrating on the moves without even noticing,because you’ll be having way too much fun!
Weight It Out
Adding resistance to any cardio workout has huge benefits and using weights for strength training is ideal. Not everyone has gym quipment around the home, but you can find a substitute in the pantry.
Grab some canned tomatoes, fill up a couple of water bottles (or wine bottles!), place some books in a backpack or pinch some potatoes – even a couple of tins of paint if you have any lying around. Incorporate a few weighted sets after your warm-up and dance workout to really get the heart rate going.
Stick to Routine
Where possible, try to set aside the same amount of time each day to complete your workout. You might feel better exercising in the morning, or later at night once the kids have gone to bed. Whatever works best for you, try to stick to a routine which will keep you focused with a goal to achieve.
“Research shows us that regular exercise reduces your chance of developing depression in the future,” says Doctor Imms. “And in some circumstances, exercise can be just as effective as some anti-depressants for mild-moderate depression”. So, even if your mental health isn’t taking a hit in the current climate, exercise is a good preventative measure to keep your mind healthy for the future.
Hopefully, after reading all of the good news about the benefits exercise has on both our mental and physical health, you’ll be pumped for a workout. And just remember how good you felt after your last one –it might just be that extra boost you need to propel yourself into better health for your brain and body.