While many people use the gym to improve cardiovascular health or build muscle, there is no question the mental health benefits resulting from regular fitness activity is significant. The positive mental effects of regular exercise has been widely documented for the ways it contributes to both physical and psychological well-being as well as aiding in the management of a variety of mental health symptoms (anxiety, depression, etc). And regardless of age or fitness level (this includes individuals from mall-walkers to marathoners), research shows that making time for exercise is a necessary facet of a comprehensive mental health regime.
At Helix Healing & Recovery we believe in the benefits of regular exercise and encourage our residents to participate. We offer two weekly fitness classes at our beautiful, on-site, state-of-the-art fitness gym. The classes are taught by a local fitness professional who also conducts regular personal training sessions at the request of our residents. As part of each resident's Helix admission, they will be provided one initial personal training session as a way to sort of introduce our fitness training program then let the resident decide about continuing personal sessions thereafter.
All new Helix clients will first be assessed for their physical capabilities before partaking in any of our fitness activities. This initial assessment will provide insight for our Personal Trainer about what fitness level a client is at and what specific limitations need to be considered when developing a safe and appropriate fitness program. Once the initial assessment is completed clients will regularly participate in a one-hour, two-day per week fitness group activity class. All fitness levels can be accommodated.
As a vital part of the developing a safe fitness regime, our personal trainer will: teach the client proper form and technique; provide a basic level of competency; develop appropriate expectations in consideration of individual limitations; will ensure activities are consistent with their specific fitness goals; Help to motivate and inspire. All this will to help the client to begin their physical wellness process on the right foot.
Some of the benefits of regular exercise include:
- Reduce Stress
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of nor epinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain's response to stress.
- Boost Happy Chemicals
Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it's worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time.
- Improve Self-Confidence
On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person's perception of his or her self-worth.
- Prevent Cognitive Decline
As we get older, our brains slowly deteriorate. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's kill off brain cells losing many important brain functions in the process. Exercise and a healthy diet can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline. Working out boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
- Aleviate Anxiety
The chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the treadmill for some low-to-moderate aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity.
- Boost Brainpower
Various studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Studies suggest that a good workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.
- Sharpen Memory
Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning.
- Help Control Addiction
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term).
- Increase Relaxation
For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body's core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it's time to sleep.
- Be More Productive
Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers.
- Be More Creative
A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature. Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.
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