Just like laughter is the best medicine for when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, so is a good dose of exercise!
Piet Oosthuizen, Head of Product at Virgin Active South Africa, says that activity not only makes us physically stronger, it also improves our mental outlook. “There is plenty of medical research which has established exercise as one of the most effective treatments for depression, in some cases more effective than any medication. It is probably the release of endorphins and serotonin during exercise that produces this mood boost and it benefits everyone, irrespective of their individual mental health.”
Oosthuizen believes that any form of exercise will have some impact: “Even a short, slow walk can have a positive effect on your outlook, but 20 minutes of activity at an appropriate level of intensity can deliver a mood boost lasting 12 hours.”
Exercise also gives us a sense of control over our lives. Sonja Lyubomirsky PhD, author of The How of Happiness, writes that it “helps you feel like the captain of your own ship”. Oosthuizen adds that there are clear and identifiable psychological benefits that come from exercise. These include:
- Higher energy levels and, paradoxically, a greater sense of calm
- A distraction from negative thoughts leading to a better perspective
- A sense of achievement
- An improved self-esteem
- A feeling of being in charge of your own destiny
- Better sleep.
Find your nearest Virgin Active health club here: www.virginactive.co.za