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Mental health: 6 ways to be happy through sports!

Mental health: 6 ways to be happy through sports!

Mental health: 6 ways to be happy through sports!

Fitness clubs, get the message out to your members! Sports are one of the surest ways to achieve mental well-being. Regular exercise not only strengthens the muscles and heart but also offers many benefits for the mind: it boosts the brain, keeps addictions at bay, stimulates creativity, and reduces stress. In a world of fears and uncertainties, maintaining balance has become an important social issue. Fitness clubs play an important role in raising awareness of the mental health benefits of sports... 6 facts your members need to know to get the most out of their workouts. 

Numerous studies show that practicing sports promotes mental health. And this is a crucial fact in the current situation, given the devastating effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on global morale... According to the American Psychological Association's March 2022 "Stress in America" survey, 58 percent of Americans report feeling stressed every day because of the pandemic.

"Physical activity is a panacea for mental illness and science proves it. That's why gyms need to communicate the benefits of exercise, especially to people who have these kinds of problems and may not have included exercise in their treatment protocol," says Bryce Hastings, director of research at LES MILLS.

After spending the last few years in isolation, many people seek to integrate into communities and build relationships, including in sports. The Global Fitness Report 2021 (read the report) shows that two-thirds of fitness members (67 percent) prefer to work out in groups, and group classes have become the most popular fitness activity. Thus, clubs have been forced to take on this "social" function, previously performed by bars and religious institutions, of bringing people together. In addition to the social impact, there is also an interesting economic case: a recent report by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) shows that the global mental wellness economy is now worth $121 billion.

Staying moderate

No need to exhaust yourself in long runs... Experts say shorter workouts have a more profound effect on mental well-being. A study of 1.2 million U.S. adults found that people who trained in 45-minute sessions had better mental health than those who pushed themselves in a marathon format. According to the study, the ideal frequency for reducing stress would be three to five sessions per week. The researchers recommend four sessions of aerobic exercise per week for real psychological benefits: less depression and negative thoughts. Don't panic if intense aerobic exercise is not for you. Physical activity, such as walking, also reduces stress and anxiety.

Don't neglect the little things

A daily 20-minute session of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise has been shown to immediately improve mood. Not only does it increase endorphin levels, but the positive effects can last up to 12 hours, but it's not just cardio that brings joy! After reviewing 23 published studies, researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise per week increased happiness levels. Those who did at least 30 minutes of regular exercise were 30 percent more likely to be "happy" than those who did not.

Group exercise

Researchers have found that some forms of exercise are more effective than others. Team sports, for example, followed closely by cycling and aerobic exercise, were found to improve mental health the most. In general, group activities are more effective. A 12-week study found that participants in group exercise classes scored significantly higher on stress reduction and physical, mental, and emotional quality of life than those who exercised alone. Another 2019 study found that participants experienced more individual pleasure, exertion, and satisfaction when exercising in groups.

Doing yoga at night

Yoga exercises are considered excellent mood enhancers and a recent study show that yoga, particularly the mindful breathing associated with it, can be used to alleviate symptoms of depression. If you want to maximize the benefits of yoga, experts recommend practicing it at night. A recent study shows that an evening session of stretching and meditation can have a significant impact on sleep quality, increase positive emotions and improve the perception of mental and physical stress. And the benefits are said to be seen immediately. Study participants performed a series of 20-30 minute stretches and a 10-minute meditation three evenings a week for fifteen days, based on the yoga program. After just 6 short sessions, those who practiced evening yoga reported significant changes: improved sleep quality, feelings of self-confidence, motivation, and reduced anxiety and sadness.

Lifting weights... heavy or light.

Many scientists claim that lifting weights can have an effect similar to that of antidepressants or psychotherapy. And lifting weights is not necessary. A recent study shows that mental health benefits occur regardless of the weight lifted. It's not so much about the force exerted, but the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes with this act and resistance training in general. Another study shows that lifting weights can reduce anxiety symptoms. Experts also recommend exercises such as squats, lunges, and planks because they strengthen the trunk and promote better posture, which is related to a better mood.

It also strengthens the mind

Neurobiological studies suggest that mindfulness practices can influence the plasticity of brain structure and function. The main neurocognitive mechanisms involved are emotional regulation, self-awareness, and attention control. Research suggests that mindfulness meditation makes our minds less reactive to emotions, allowing us to better cope with all kinds of feelings and situations. Regular practitioners are even said to be able to have greater compassion for others and themselves. According to Dr. Jacob Meyer - an expert in treating mental health problems through sport - mindfulness would also allow us to "get a more accurate picture of one's physical and mental fitness levels," which could lead to better training choices. Finally, be aware of what's going on inside you. When we exercise, our bodies release a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which improves the health of brain cells. As neuroscientist Maurice Curtis explains:

"The principle is that when you exercise, you allow your brain to produce new brain cells."

And don't forget that your brain likes variety... So, to challenge your gray matter, regularly introduce new ways of moving.


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