How exercise helps you recover both mentally and physically

The votes are in

Last week’s vote had two different options and they were:

How exercise helps you recover both mentally and physically
Or
Why do we need an exercise routine?

With 76% of the vote the winner is “How exercise helps you recover both mentally and physically”. In this blog 2 Spuds will try and answer this question as best we can.

The science

Always a good place to start. I mean you can put into that multi coloured search engine questions like:

“How can exercise help me physically?”
“Does exercise help me through a mental crisis?”
“What are the top ten benefits of exercise on the body?”

And that multi coloured search engine will oblige and give you many different answers. This is true: there are many different benefits to exercise helping you both mentally and physically. So lets look at the evidence.

It can help you feel happier

Exercise can be an outlet for people suffering from all sorts of mental and physical conditions. Add a personal trainer into the equation then you can have a talking therapy as well. Although we are not technically trained in talking therapies it is amazing what we get told when you are working out.

The treadmill

It will not be the first time I have put someone on a treadmill and asked them to do a fast walk on an incline while we discuss whatever is bothering them. They sweat, talk, laugh, work harder and the outcome after 15 minutes is that they feel better.

Boxing

Similarly with boxing it has not been the first time I have handed someone a pair of boxing gloves and taken them to the boxing bags. Said person will then hit the bags, and at some point tell me what is happening (sometimes they don’t, but this isn’t my point). The long and short of this is I have provided an outlet for the stress, the anxiety or the depression. Instead of bottling up the emotions they have let them out.

Endorphins

Endorphins are released when we exercise, and these are responsible for producing positive feelings. They can also help reduce the perception of pain. So, in short, exercise! Get those endorphins flowing and feel happy. The other side of this is exercise it can give you more energy.

Bones and muscles

Now here is the crunch point. After a broken bone you are usually encouraged to have some sort of physiotherapy. In a broken bone the bone is obviously affected but also the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the area. Now you may never have full strength back in the bone, but you can rehab the muscles, tendons and ligaments to help stabilise the bone and help it recover. With any kind of osteoporosis, arthritis, join replacement and so on you can work on the area surrounding the joint to make it stronger and therefore stabilise it. With the stabilisation a person can feel a lot better and could have less pain.

Exercise can reduce your risk of injury or illness

The body likes to be moving, it likes to eat a healthy diet and it also likes drinking its fair share of water too. Today a lot of people lead a sedentary lifestyle with a questionable diet. A sedentary lifestyle can lead us to lower back issues, diabetes type 2, higher blood pressure readings or cholesterol, obesity, heart disease or ultimately death. If we can exercise and eat a healthy diet, we significantly reduce our chances of getting any of the above conditions.
For some fun facts and figures of what I have just said please visit the NHS website.

Cancer prehab

Carrying on from above it was reported in the BBC only recently that the NHS England are to start offering cancer patients “prehab” exercise to help boost their recovery. It is hoped that by doing exercise before starting a chemotherapy treatment or before major surgery they will recover a lot faster and reduce their hospital stays.

Sleep

To aid in our recovery from either a mental or physical condition we need sleep. Sleep helps our bodies heal, it gives us more energy, it can help us keep our lives in a routine, it can stop you reaching for that chocolate bar as well. It is important we listen to our bodies when they need sleep. There is no point fighting it. I find when your body needs sleep it is busy making you feel better.

A side note

It is extremely important that we have the right sleep aids as well. What I mean is no bright lights in the bedroom. In short, no laptops, tablets, tv or phones. We need to have the correct temperature as well as the correct noise levels. It can even go as far as your nutrition. If you have coffee straight before bed your body will be feeding off the caffeine so it will be over ready for action rather than ready for sleep.

Post-surgery

You will notice if you have ever been in hospital that physiotherapists (physios) will be at your bedside almost as soon as you have been brought back from theatre.

December

When I was in hospital in December one of the ladies across from me had a physio at her bedside within a few hours of surgery. The aim was to get her moving as soon as possible. Funnily enough she was in the discharge queue after me and that was after a three day stay. From what I could gather she had had a hysterectomy. With me I was back on the ward within an hour of surgery. When the nurse came a couple of hours later to do the post-op checks I asked if I could get up. The nurse said I had just had major surgery so was to stay put. I said no. I wanted my pj’s on, catheter out and wanted to move around. She said I was going to be trouble but obliged by helping me out. Now I was nowhere near walking around but shuffling I could muster. I slept for a couple more hours after that and then was up and that was that. I knew that the quicker I could move around the quicker I would get home and the quicker I would recover. Let’s just say I was allowed home just over the 12 hour mark post-surgery.

An important side note

If for any reason you are reading this blog in a hospital bed then please check with you nurse, doctor or physio before jumping up.

Mental health

Exercise is good for your mental health. It can be an outlet for you as well as someone to talk to as I have already mentioned. However, what it can also do is get you back into a routine, make you accountable for turning up to the gym for a session, get you socially active and much, much more. It can also stop negative thoughts too and give you some breathing space to think.

My mental health

I know with my mental health that I am a very active person. I also know that telling me to sit still and look at the walls is not going to go down too well. I need to be active even if it is shuffling around a hospital ward.

Exercise

Here’s the thing, this blog is not telling you that you must go to your nearest gym and sign up for a membership now if not sooner. Exercise can come in many different forms. The one thing I would stress is that it must be right for you (and your condition) and fun. If it isn’t fun then you will struggle to do it, simple! Exercise can mean a walk around the block, a class at the local gym, swimming, dancing, Yoga or some gentle exercise at home. If you are in any doubt about what kind of exercise to start with then ask. There are physiotherapists, personal trainers who specialise in rehab and mental health or your GP that can advise you in what is good and not so good to do.

Conclusion

With everything I have just said hopefully it has answered any questions you may have about how exercise helps you recover both mentally and physically. However, if you have any specific questions related to your condition(s) then please just contact 2 Spuds and we will see how we can help you.

-Helen

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