3rd December 2023, 11:00 - 1:00
Posted: 20th January 2023
Mental Health & Exercise: Hannah Kay
When you first join a gym, sign up with a PT, or download a fitness app to follow, what is the reason behind this? Is it wanting to lose weight, lose body fat, tone up, or get a 6-pack? A study done in 2017 by Carrotte et al found “Exercise is often promoted as a way to change appearance rather than for health, well-being and fun”. If I were to keep asking why and digging to find that true motivation, how many times would it actually be down to a reason such as; improve general health to live longer, feel more confident in your body, have more energy and a positive outlook on life? All of these things listed above can be made possible by exercise when it’s cleverly used as a tool and the priority is enjoyment above just ‘getting it done’. Yes, I said to ‘enjoy’ exercise and I can guarantee you can, when you find the way of exercise that works for you, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing.
We know that exercise is good for us and good for our mental health, but why? We get told to “go out for a walk” or to “get our bodies moving” if we’re not feeling 100% and this is due to our endorphins (‘feel good’ hormones) being released into the brain during exercise that give us a generally more positive outlook, lifted spirits and happier feeling. That post-workout buzz we all get? Yeah, that’s it! Not only are these feelings a product of exercise, but your productivity can increase by 12% and you’re also up to 31% smarter when you are in a positive frame of mind. Therefore, based on those facts alone, surely you’d think more people would want to be regularly exercising… However only an astonishing 13% of the UK population currently do and if anyone suffers from a type of mental illness (1 in 4 people) the chance of them partaking becomes less and less.
So… You’ve got everything ready to do your first workout, you’re dressed in something you feel comfortable in, had your pre-workout meal and your water bottle is filled to the brim, let’s do this! An hour later, it’s complete, you’ve smashed it and feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and confidence. You pencil in your next session and get on with the rest of your day which, surprise surprise, feels like it goes so much better than any other day! A month goes by and your motivation is starting to take a dip, you’re finding it harder to get to your sessions, may not be physically seeing the results you wanted and this is where you may start to think about a different direction. In the first few months after signing up for a gym membership, it has been found that personal attendance rates can get as low as 10-37%! What happened?
Let’s take a look at your motivations and re-assess. Remember at the beginning when we looked at the reason for starting out on your fitness journey? You may have fixated on that ‘lose weight’ idea and have missed the fact that you now have more energy, you’re more confident in the exercise you’re doing, you have a more positive attitude and outlook on life, are more productive at work, and are generally happier. The weight loss and toning you wished for at the start will come, but focusing so hard on that means you’re missing out on changing your life for the better, through exercise that you now enjoy!
Exercise has been shown to reduce the populations stress levels by 33%, depression by 25% and suicide in young adults by 23%. Improving your mental health through exercise has a direct link and the science in our brains and bodies do most of the work for us; however we need to show up! And showing up over and over again for ourselves will help with that process. One step at a time, session by session, smile by smile.
Women’s Health and Fitness Professional
Level 3 Personal Trainer
SQA Award in Mental Health and Exercise Coaching
Level 3 Pre and Post Natal
Hannah Kay Fitness is a Certified Mental Health and Exercise Coach, Personal Trainer and Online Coach specializing in Women's Wellness. Training individuals, couples and groups face to face from a fitness facility in Clifton Moor, York. Running a monthly women empowerment programme (EMPOWER) and ad-hoc open events around York; using exercise, journaling, meditation and breathwork to improve women's confidence and helping them learn to love themselves again. In addition to this, HKF is also a co-owner of Mind and Move, an online group training programme for women all over the world, that values and promotes development of physical and mental strength.