Raise your hand if you have heard that exercise is good for your health. We hear it all the time, right? And it’s true, but what is also true is that exercise can have a profound impact on our overall mental health.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Haylee Buono, certified personal trainer, kettlebell coach, and group fitness instructor based in New York City. Haylee is passionate about sharing her personal story of fitness and mental health and bringing knowledge and resources to others, so they too can experience the positive benefits – mind, body, and spirit – of exercise.
Here’s what she had to say…
Haylee is a certified personal trainer, kettlebell coach and group fitness instructor based out of New York City. She has affiliations with the National Federation of Personal Trainers, Strongfirst School of Strength and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America.
1. Let’s talk about the connection between mental health and exercise.
This connection is real and backed by science. Exercise is not just about losing weight or building muscle, the benefits go far beyond that. Studies suggest that even moderate daily exercise can prevent and treat depression as effectively as antidepressant medications. Regular exercise can improve sleep, relieve anxiety, reduce depression symptoms, promote a sense of well-being and help us live longer, happier lives.
2. How much exercise do you need in order to improve your mental health?
The good news is, not much. A recent study done by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that subjects who ran for 15 minutes a day reduced their risk of major depression by 26%. We always think of exercise as hour long sweat sessions at the gym but studies show we don’t need that much time to cash in on these benefits. As a general guideline, approximately 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week can give the greatest benefit in terms of mental health boosting effects.
3. What’s the best type of exercise to benefit mental health?
All exercise can be beneficial for mental health. Studies have started to pinpoint that strength training, exercises designed to increase muscle mass and endurance, can be particularly beneficial in reducing depression and anxiety related disorders. A study published by Harvard Medical School found that strength training two or more days a week gave participants significantly reduced depression symptoms. This could be due to the awareness we give our bodies when performing a strength training exercise. When we are lifting weights, we are forced to be mindful of the activity we are performing. This mindfulness generally leads to a greater sense of calm and connection with the mind.
4. If you’re a busy professional/parent/caregiver, how do you find time to exercise?
The easiest way is to exercise at home. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated to get the mental health benefits. With a simple at home exercise program you can reap all the mental health benefits associated with exercise. Furthermore, lots of people are afraid to go to the gym for fear of being judged and that social anxiety deters many men and women from starting an exercise program. Choosing a workout program you can do at home can help alleviate the intimidation of working out in front of other gym-goers and still let you enjoy the benefits of a great workout.
5. Let’s talk about how working out with a trainer can decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The benefits to working out with a trainer are two-fold. When starting any exercise program, it is important to learn proper form and technique to decrease the risk of injury while maximizing results. Secondly, trainers can be used as a support system when starting an exercise program as they are there to listen and guide you on your exercise journey. Certified personal trainers can provide a non-judgmental, welcoming environment to help you reach your fitness goals.
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Youtube Video – 3 Tips to Reap the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise