Anxiety and depression has been on the rise since the lockdown imposed by Malaysia’s government last year due to the pandemic, and many of us relied on gyms and fitness centres as a channel to relief from our daily stress. With these channels closed to the public, it may be difficult to find an outlet to release those anger, anxiety and any negative feelings that have been building up.
According to netdoctor.co.uk, working out three times a week actually reduces the risk of depression by up to 30 per cent. Another study also shows that individuals who engaged in exercise had 43% lower self-reported ‘poor mental health’ days than those who did not.
1. Running (or walking)
If you need motivation to get moving, the ‘runner’s high’ – the clarity and expansion one feels after a jog or sprint session – should do the trick.
‘Outdoor exercise or eco-therapy can be particularly beneficial and research suggests that it can actually be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression,’ said Mind Information Manager, Rachel Boyd.
Two 2007 studies commissioned by MIND revealed that 94 per cent of outdoor activities including running and walking had benefited their mental health, so for best results, avoid the treadmill.
The rumours that hitting a punching bag releases stress and anger is true. Finding an outlet for aggression can be both empowering and healing. Short, sharp ‘rounds’ of punching, followed by rest, results in an intense interval session, which releases endorphins.
If you ‘spar’ with another boxer you can achieve ‘flow’, in which you are focused solely on the task at hand/present moment; a state that everyone from Buddhist monks to Olympic athletes champion.
The mental health benefits of Pilates often get overlooked because of the traditional focus on Pilates for back health and core strength.
Learning the skill of Pilates and focusing on technique and how your body feels while in a class is a very mindful activity. It is brilliant for stress reduction and relaxation and great for Alpha types since there’s no competitive element! Aside from the feelings of wellbeing from moving and mobilising your body, its focus on breathing and relaxation can help to switch on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for sleep and relaxation.
One of the main reasons yoga helps to create better mental health is that it integrates body and mind, although it also works well when incorporated with talking therapy and meditation.
For those who find it difficult or too scary to sit and look at their own mind, yoga can be a gateway to helping understand what they need physically, mentally and emotionally. The continued focus on the breath brings yogis into the present moment and instigates a parasympathetic response from the nervous systems.
These days there are many types of yoga and all contain the fundamental belief that one must balance their yin and yang and work with the bodies to create holistic health and wellbeing.
5. Resistance Training
Lifting weights or bodyweight exercises can have a huge impact on how you feel and look; building muscle and self-esteem as well as curbing anxiety.
Recent research shows that low-moderate intensity resistance training produces a reliable and robust decrease in anxiety, but there is also evidence to show it helps improve cognition and may improve the functioning of the central nervous system.
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Lastly, just remember to always recover with MMX Whey Protein, as improved muscle recovery function can also improve the motivation to workout at home, which can lead to a healthier and better lifestyle during this lockdown.