Have you been told to exercise for your mental wellbeing?
If you’ve ever been to see a GP or psychologist to discuss ways to improve your mental wellbeing, you’ll no doubt recall being told to add in some regular exercise. And while the encouragement by medical professionals for women to exercise is great, it’s even more empowering for women to understand how exercise and metal resilience work together.
As women, we often put our own wellbeing to the wayside as soon as life starts to get busy. However, ensuring that we make time to prioritise our individual exercise routines will ensure that we are better equipped to deal with all the craziness that life throws at us!
Exercise is one of the most effective ways women can build a strong, resilient mind.
MumSafe Trainer Lauren Irvine who runs LIFT Coaching in Brisbane explains why.
Here are 3 evidence backed ways that exercise can help to build mental resilience in women.
- We prove that we can do the hard things
Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Angela Duckworth, best known for her book ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ explains that one of the best ways to grit in life is via the ‘hard thing’ rule. She states that we need to practise doing something ‘hard’ each and every day:
Something that requires practice, something where you’re going to get feedback telling you how you can get better, and you’re going to get right back in there and try again and again.
Similarly, the American Psychological Association writes that our bodies use exercise as a way to practise managing mental health issues.
Exercise can be particularly helpful for people who deal with anxiety and panic attacks. When you engage in strenuous physical activity, you’re essentially mimicking the responses that can come with anxiety, allowing you to learn how to manage these responses and not be overwhelmed by them in other situations.
- It can help to complete the stress cycle
Best-selling author Emily Nagoski has a PhD in Health Behaviour and is an expert in female’s sexual wellbeing. She explains that when our bodies trigger a stress response but there is no immediate physical threat (like being chased like a lion), there isn’t a clear ‘end’ to the stress cycle – like there would be if we ran for our life before the lion was shot and killed. This means that we stay in a heightened state of emotion for a prolonged period of time. She writes,
Physical activity is the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress response cycle and recalibrating your central nervous system into a calm state. When people say, ‘Exercise is good for stress,’ that is for real.
- It releases happy hormones
If you’ve ever completed a sweaty gym session and felt awesome afterwards, it’s because there’s actually been a chemical shift within your body. When they say that exercise makes you feel good, it’s because it’s true!
The Harvard Medical School, explains it as this:
The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.
So, the next time you delay your daily movement because something else takes precedence – remember that exercise is one of the most effective ways to build a strong, resilient mind and can truly help us to become more resilient in order to deal with life’s challenges.