Working out to beat the January Blues
The physical benefits of working out are well-known. People often go to the gym to lose weight, tone up or just to get their body moving.
After a good workout, you will feel that welcome rush of endorphins. It gives you a boost of energy, and you can feel proud that you went and pushed yourself. These feelings of euphoria and happiness can not only make your body feel great, but it can also help your mind and wellbeing.
So, what about the other possible positive impacts on your mental health? Here are 3 of the main psychological benefits of working out:
- Reduces stress
Exercise can help to reduce stress and lower your cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in your body. This can help to tackle feelings of anxiety and tension. According to Walden University, elevating your heart rate can even help to reverse stress-induced brain damage. Boxing, in particular, can be good to help reduce stress, not only just through the physical act of punching a bag but also that you can get your endorphins pumping, and switch off from the outside world.
- Sleeping better
As you might expect, being physically active and raising your heart rate takes it out of you and uses up excess energy. This can lead to you sleeping better and more deeply at night. One of the biggest benefits of this is not only you getting your 8 hours every night, but it can help reduce anxiety and quieten your mind.
- Decreases the chances of getting depression
In 2017, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that people who did regular exercise were less likely to experience depression in the future. The research found that the benefits of working out on mental health were just from intensive periods of exercise, but also helped people who did regular but low-intensity exercise as well.
Porsha Fearon began boxing at the West End Athletic Club a little over a year ago, after doing high-intensity training for around 7 years. Porsha suffers from General Anxiety Disorder and manic depression. She says she joined the club to hit physical goals she wanted to achieve, without understanding or knowing at the time the impact it may have on her mental health:
“Boxing has not only allowed me to find a new avenue for my frustrations but it has allowed me to control and discipline my mind in ways I never thought possible. It has brought a new sense of relief into my life, which I know is something that many people who struggle with mental health are looking for.
“Thanks to boxing I have been able to step out of my comfort zone more and more, allowing me to set and reach goals I never thought imaginable. I’ve recently started a new career that I never would have been able to do in the past if it wasn’t for my new found happiness and confidence.”
Left picture features our member Porsha Fearon, in the middle.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of boxing, or just try out a class, you can see the West End Athletic Club’s list of boxing services here or check out the class schedule.
**If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed here or are looking to get help, please reach out to a friend or family, or one of the crisis helplines listed here.
Article by Olivia Hows, journalist/digital content creator