There are a lot of people currently in the UK and around the world who suffer from some form of mental health. Before I began to research the statistics for this blog post, I wasn’t aware of just how many children were affected by mental illness.
Here is just a few to think about:
- 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 to 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, this is around three children in every class.
- There has been a huge increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self-harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.
- Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.
Mental health problems are becoming more and more common as we attempt to break the stigma that surrounds it. One in four people each year will experience a mental health problem. The most common mental health problems are;
- Mixed anxiety and depression
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating Disorders
As somebody who fits into the statistics for having a mental health problem (I have depression, anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder) I’ve always been fascinated on the research of exercise and the effect it has on mental health. We’ve all heard of the benefits of getting up and being active but does it actually work? Does becoming more active actually improve our mental health?
The answer is yes.
I’m not going to give you a list of statistics of how those suffering from a mental health problem felt better after exercise, if you want to know google it. There’s plenty of research out there to prove there is a definite link between mental health and exercise. O’Neal, Sarriss and Dimeo are just a few who’ve published research into the relationship between mental health and exercise. No, I’ll tell you about my experience with exercise.
I hated the gym. The thought of getting hot and sweaty in an environment with fitness people really did not appeal to me. I soon stopped going to the gym because I was bored of my routine although I did convince myself it was because I hated exercising. I went back to the gym and began to participate in gym classes. Now that is what I needed. Every class was different and before I knew it, I was doing things I’d never done before such as squats, lunges and mountain climbers.
Now mentally and physically I’m glad I signed up for that first gym class.
Physically I’ve never felt better. I’m fitter, more toned and stronger than ever. I don’t just look good but I feel good. As someone who used to be very self-conscious and didn’t like my appearance very much, I’m now showing my body off in outfits I could only dream of wearing a year ago. It’s not just the physical change that I’m proud of, the change to my mental health has been amazing.
I cope better with things. I don’t feel as depressed and my bad days aren’t as bad as they were and I’m convinced the reason is because I exercise. I was always aware of the relationship of physical exercise and mental health but I never believed it. I don’t think you do believe it when your head is in such a dark place.
Trust me though, exercise helps.
Go for a walk, sign up to the gym, go for a lovely swim. Be active. As soon as you start moving, your body releases its feel good hormones. Honestly as soon as you’re feeling better and you’re not in that dark place anymore, you’ll thank me.
Exercise will and is your best friend.