I know I, for one, go to the gym primarily to feel good. Not even to look good, or get fitter, or lose weight – those are nice added bonuses of course – but simply to feel better, happier, more energetic, less stressed right now. Those are instant benefits I get each and every time I work out.
And I’m not alone in this. In a survey conducted by UK-based mental health charity MIND, 83 per cent of respondents said they exercised to help lift their mood or reduce stress, while seven out of 10 gym users with no mental health issues thought their mental wellbeing would suffer if they didn’t exercise.
But what about those who do suffer from mental health issues? Can they also benefit from exercise in a similar mood-enhancing way? The answer: yes, albeit probably not with such immediate effect. Let’s take a look at some of the evidence.