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Exercise: good for body, mind and soul

Exercise: good for body, mind and soul

It’s a fact, exercise has been proven to benefit your mental health. So, if you are up to your ears in tasks, tests and stress, you now have a very good reason to dust off those sneakers and sweats and get your body moving. The good news is that you don’t need expensive gym memberships to sweat out all the troubles of your day. There are activities at your school, college or university that you can participate in for free. If not, you could think about starting your own freestyle dancing, soccer, rugby, netball, walking or running groups. Just make sure you do so in numbers so that you are always safe.

This is how exercise can benefit your mental health:

  • There’s a cool chemical reaction: serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins are all examples of chemicals that change – for the better – when you exercise.
  • Your sleep is deep: if you exercise regularly, you will sleep better. When you sleep well, you wake up in a much better mood and will be more focused. It affects your whole day!
  • You feel better about yourself: when you feel better about yourself, your self-esteem is improved and you have more confidence. If you are achieving your exercise goals, you can improve your sense of discipline and your coping ability.
  • It distracts you from the negative: you just need to listen to one news broadcast and all the bad news and negativity will smash your optimism and positivity. Exercise can distract you from those negative thoughts and provide you with opportunities for new experiences.
  • It helps you socialise more: exercising often gets you in touch with people who have similar interests to you. It will widen your social circles and also keep you distracted from the pressures we face every day.
  • Exercise will boost your energy levels: sounds crazy, right? But yes, the more exercise you do, the more energy you will have. Unless you’re an extremist with muscles the size of watermelons!
  • It’s an outlet for stress: any physical activity can be an easy outlet for your biggest frustrations. It can reduce muscle tension, which can make you feel more relaxed. Put on your headphones, blast your favourite tunes and sweat the day’s frustrations away. You are guaranteed to feel better.

And remember that you don’t have to run a marathon to exercise, just get your body moving to feel the benefits, so just walking or gentle stretches will benefit you too!

What happens if you can’t, for medical or other reasons, exercise and you still need an outlet? There are people and places that will help you (for free) if you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, hopeless or even suicidal. If you can’t get your feelings out through exercising or if exercising is just not helping you enough, please contact any one of these groups:

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline

0800 70 80 90

ADHD Helpline

0800 55 44 33

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line

(24hr helpline)

0800 12 13 14

SMS 32312

Suicide Crisis Line

0800 567 567

SADAG Mental Health Line

011 234 4837

Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour

0861 435 787

Cipla WhatsApp Chat Line

(9am to 4pm, 7 days a week)

076 882 2775

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