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How Exercise Transformed My Mental Health: Insights and Tips by a Women’s Personal Trainer

How Exercise Transformed My Mental Health: Insights and Tips by a Women’s Personal Trainer

Did you know that exercise can significantly improve mental health? In this article, we’ll delve into some research on the topic, but first, let’s start with a personal perspective.

Vanesa Nicolosi, a dedicated Women’s Personal Trainer, shares her journey with exercise and its profound impact on her life and her clients.

My Personal Journey

Let’s start with a little confession: If I don’t move at all for a day—just lounging on the couch, watching TV, or reading—I get cranky and feel down. It becomes so hard to get back to my routine. The less I move, the more I want to do nothing at all. This inactivity spiral only leads to feeling sorry for myself, causing anxiety. Anxiety then pushes me to eat foods that don’t nourish my body, making me feel even worse.

To combat this, even on my rest days, I try and find some form of movement. It could be a strong session like weights or pole fitness, some stretching or walking, or even cleaning the house and dancing to some background music. Any movement makes me feel so much better afterward!

The Science Behind It

It’s not just me—research has proven that exercise releases endorphins, those magical mood-enhancers that help us feel fantastic. Endorphins make us feel good and happy despite the effort, so it’s definitely worth it. Training and movement improve my mood, my perspective, and how I feel about myself and everything around me.

Staying Motivated

Some days are easier than others. On the harder days, when I’m low on energy and start doubting myself, I push myself to move. And no, being a personal trainer doesn’t mean I’m always motivated! Motivation isn’t always innate. In fact, I dare say we feel motivated only about 5% of the time. The key to success in fitness—or any area of life—is action. Consistency, perseverance, and building a habit are what get us to our goals.

As Jim Rohn wisely said: 

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

How Exercise Helps with Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are major factors that influence mental health. 

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to weightlifting, can act as a stress reliever by demanding our full attention and diverting our minds from stress. Regular exercise also boosts confidence and control, with the feeling of accomplishment spilling over into other areas of life.

Here’s how movement helps with stress:

  • Endorphin Release: Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that act as natural mood elevators, helping combat stress and enhancing happiness and relaxation.
  • Mental Clarity: During exercise, you can disconnect from your challenges, leading to a clearer mind and better decision-making.
  • Anxiety Reduction: Regular physical activity decreases feelings of anxiety and tension, promoting a calmer mindset.
  • Social Interaction: Group exercise classes or sports activities foster a sense of community, providing emotional support and shared experiences.
  • Improved Sleep: Exercise contributes to better sleep patterns, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Exercise and Depression

A study in older adults showed that combining antidepressants with physical exercise offered significant advantages in treating depression. 

Also, a review of 62 studies found that exercise positively influences mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

So, we know for sure that exercise and movement can be a great tool for improving mental health, together with therapy and medical treatment when needed.

However, we’re all busy in our day to day. So, I wanted to share some practical tips to help you fit exercise into your schedule:

  • Choose an Activity You Enjoy: Find an exercise that resonates with you. Enjoying the activity makes it easier to stick with.
  • Schedule “Me Time”: Treat your exercise sessions as important appointments. Set aside dedicated time each day or week for physical activity.
  • Breaks for Breathing: Take short breaks throughout your workday for deep breathing or quick stretches. These moments can instantly reduce stress and increase focus.
  • Collaborative Fitness: Exercise with others to add a social element to your routine and strengthen bonds with like-minded people.
  • Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use fitness apps to track your exercise journey. Celebrate your milestones and progress for positive reinforcement.

Exercise is an amazing tool for improving emotional and physical well-being. It can be a time for introspection and reflection or a way to connect with others.

The main reason I choose to exercise is my mental health. It helps free my mind from anything else, and I start to feel grateful for what my body can do. I find my self-love again through fitness. I end up exhausted and happy—a unique feeling!

Vanesa Nicolosi is a Women’s Personal Trainer who has always been passionate about sports, health, and fitness. She helps women find and make time for themselves and their self-care through movement. She aims to help clients make movement a core part of who they are and to ease those aches and pains. By helping her clients improve their quality of life and gain more energy and strength through fitness, movement, and increased self-awareness, she transforms their approach to wellness. You can contact Vanesa for online personal training or in person in Madrid here. Follow here on instagram here: @vanesanicolosi

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