Exercising to Help Mental Health.

Today has been a really good day because I did my first major bit of aerobic exercise, and it made me feel great.

Most people I have spoken to, and most of the books I have read, say that exercise is a really important part of dealing with anxiety and depression.

My anxiety made it difficult for me to do things; I knew in my head what would help but actually doing it was a different matter.  When I contemplated exercise it was a real struggle to put anything into action, a hypnotherapist suggested I found somewhere with a punch bag so that I could release my anger, but this would have meant going to a gym which would then have meant being around other people, which is something I struggled with.  Throw in the fact that I could not afford a gym membership and that was the end of that idea.

I used to go running (many years ago), but I found it boring, and with my current level of fitness I would probably only make 10 minutes, plus the effort of getting out was also a real problem for me.

So what to do?

Having Leo, our Westie, has been a great help as far as exercise goes, He needs walking, so I try and take him for a walk at least twice a day, plus a number of additional trips outside for him to do his business; I even try and run around with him when I feel like it, which is fun for both of us.


The walking is great, but my GP said I need to do more intense aerobic exercise.  Because of the anxiety levels, my body was generating a lot of adrenaline and I was doing nothing to use this excess up.

She suggested working out at home but I didn’t have much idea of what to do and couldn’t be bothered to trawl Youtube for videos, plus I thought I needed something that would hold my attention.  I thought about an exercise DVD; and that was when Davina McCall came into my life.

Davina McCall

I looked on Amazon and found ‘Davina Fit in 15’, which helps you get fit by exercising intensely for 15 minutes a day.  Brilliant!  That was the one for me; I didn’t want anything too long because I struggled to stay focused, so 15 minutes was perfect.

As with the books I bought, the DVD sat on the shelf for a few weeks, unopened, but this morning I decided it was time to make a start, so I did.  One thing I didn’t factor in was Leo…..

Leo was asleep under the bed for most of the morning, so I took the opportunity to start the exercise as I didn’t know how he would cope with seeing me jumping around the flat like an idiot.  Unfortunately he woke up just as I was putting the DVD on but I decided to start anyway.  After five minutes of being barked at, jumped at and having him grab hold of my leg I realised it wasn’t going to work, so I stopped.

I felt really down and frustrated; I had built myself up to this and it looked as though it wasn’t going to work.  After stopping for a moment I decided I needed to find a solution, so I shut Leo in the bedroom and started again.  Leo barked a couple of times but I ignored him and pretty soon he calmed down, went quiet, and on I went.  I think I did alright, I won’t have won any prizes for style, but that doesn’t matter, the main thing is that I did it!

I am really excited about doing more, and the DVD is great in the way that it gives you four separate 15 minute workouts (cardio, arms, legs and core), and a warm down and meditation section.  The idea is that you can do just one workout, or if you are feeling super fit do two or three (I’m sticking to one at the moment!).   The exercises are pretty easy to follow and the instructors and Davina make it fun; add in the fact that I get to stay in my nice warm flat and I have to ask, what could be better?

Obviously I am looking at exercise to help my mental health, but it is something that is really important for everyone to do and anyone should be able to free up 15-30 minutes a day.

I will be writing more blogs about how exercise can help mental health, in fact I have just started reading a book called ‘How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression Using Nutrition and Physical Exercise’ which gives the science behind it, so I look forward to sharing more about this with you later.

In the mean time, if you would like to follow my progress, and see what affect exercise has on my condition, you can ask to join the ‘And Breathe…’ Facebook Group (the link is on the blog).  My aim is to try and do a 15 minute workout every weekday (having a rest on the weekend) and I will be really interested to see how it goes.

If you are interested in the DVD here is a link to Amazon.

Take care, and happy exercising.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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