I've been feeling pretty low this last few days, so before I go to the gym and get my exercise one I thought I'd share some great tips on how exercise can help you become more confident and beat depression!
1. Exercise release endorphins
Obvious one to start with I know. You'd be amazed though the number of people who neglect this, or possibly don't understand it's importance at a bio-molecular level.
Countless studies show that both endurance (cardio) and strength (weights) training will release dopamine, seratonin and adrenaline. At a basic level these chemical messages bridge the gaps between synapses (nervous junctions) in the brain and switch on the areas that relate to you feeling in a good mood.
2. Group ex is great fun
I was always a sports player. It's how I made friends growing up, and I still look forward to my weekly 5-a-side session with my ex-Uni buddies - not because we win (we often don't) but because we share the fun and jokes.
Now I don't play as many team sports, but I teach BodyPump. Last night we had 30 people lifting, sweating, grunting AND laughing together to push us through a tough session. At the end, it's buzzing.
3. Exercising is sociable
With the exception of the guy who comes in with his hood up, earphones in and doesn't want to be disturbed, most people like to have a chat about their training. People want to show off, or complain about what's hard. It doesn't matter really what they're saying - us humans LOVE that interaction.
Nowadays it's even easier, check out my cousins boyfriend (below), I don't even have to talk to him and we can still keep up through exercise and social media.
Routines are great to have. There's that old phrase, the devil makes work for idle hands, and I find similarly that depression can often be born out of boredom. Keep yourself busy, and stave off those depressing thoughts by building exercise into your routine.
5. Exercise creates momentum
This is something I see in myself and my clients time and time again. Take someone who doesn't exercise at all, and invariably you have some who doesn't eat well, sleep well or think well.
Now, build exercise into that persons life, and all of a sudden they're on the salads. Because they're eating less sugary foods their sleep tends to improve. This increase their energy, they're now able to do more with their life... a fog has been lifted from their brain... productivity increases.
Exercise can have that power, and I'm sure you've felt it before.
6. Nutrition puts the building blocks in place
All those happy hormones mentioned earlier - dopamine, seratonin etc... fall into the protein family. It you're eating great food, your body has these in abundance, and conversely if you're not then you're going to struggle to produce these proteins that will help you feel great.
7. Strength training gives you a great sense of achievement
I wrote about this last week, but it's worth mentioning again. Take my client Ruby (below). When I met Ruby she wasn't the kind of girl who going to bowl up to the gym and head straight for the deadlifting platform. But after only a few weeks training she's smashing out these sort of deadlifts and loving it. She has improved her core strength, as well as her confidence and feels great to know she can pick up 45kg (and probably more!)