It’s no secret that exercise is good for us. But if the thought of lugging yourself to the gym after a hard day at work is putting you in a worse mental state than before you thought about it, here’s the good news—you don’t need to go to the gym for a mental health-boosing workout.
Instead, some at-home gym equipment, which can be as simple as a YouTube video, is all you need to improve your mental health. While you’re at it, you’ll sculpt some muscles and feel mentally better in the process. At-home gyms are great for your mental health, and here’s why.
1. Builds Confidence
Every person struggling with mental health has unique triggers that can spark their depression or anxiety. Sometimes, these are internal triggers, such as doubts about your ability to accomplish something you told yourself you’d do.
Driving to the gym—let alone exercising in a crowded place—can feel like an overwhelming task for someone struggling with mental health. Therefore, by creating a gym space in your home, you can get a workout the moment you think about it, no matter how small it is.
Even just a two-minute walk on the treadmill or doing some yoga stretches for one minute can help boost your confidence that you can keep promises to yourself.
Having a gym at home can also increase your physical results because you can replace the time you usually would spend driving to the gym exercising instead. We encourage you to go slow, though. The smaller your at-home workout goals are, the more confidence you’ll build as you achieve them.
2. Reduces Depression and Anxiety
There’s no shortage of studies showing how exercise is effective at reducing depression and alleviating feelings of anxiety.
In research performed on schizophrenia patients with depression and anxiety, scientists found that only 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three days per week improved their energy levels and overall well-being.
Some other mental health benefits that you can gain by incorporating at-home workouts into your routine include:
- Increased mental alertness
- Mood improvement
- More endurance
- Better sleep
Exercise effectively improves mental health because it releases endorphins in your body. Endorphins, a chemical released by your brain and spinal cord, are the cornerstone of making people feel good, as this chemical boosts euphoria and happiness.
3. No One Will Judge You
Depending on a person’s mental health triggers, there’s sometimes nothing more depression or anxiety-inducing than the thought of going to a gym where everyone will be watching you.
Setting up some at-home gym equipment eliminates this common concern. In fact, a study revealed that approximately 50% of the 2,000 Americans that they surveyed have a fear of working out in front of other people.
The statistic gets grimmer, though. About 31% of people the researchers spoke with stated that the thought of getting into shape sparked anxious feelings.
Working with a therapist is always best if you have mental health concerns about exercising. But creating a safe space at home can do wonders for building confidence and releasing endorphins that can lead to improved mental health.
We recommend selecting calming or uplifting music and using a diffuser with lavender or lemon that can help reduce feelings of anxiety while you exercise at home.
4. Improves Stress Levels
Mental health and stress often go hand-in-hand. Luckily, exercise in any capacity can help lower stress levels.
The reason for this circles back to the endorphins we discussed earlier. Endorphins serve as natural painkillers in the brain. So, you can use at-home gym workouts to minimize your stress through the body’s natural ability to produce endorphins.
Exercising at home can also help you sleep better, which many people with mental health issues struggle with.
Improved sleep can do wonders for reducing depression and anxiety because it allows you to process what would typically be complex information more easily. In turn, you’ll better control over how you react to it.
5. Strengthens Your Immune System
If your mental health struggles involve worrying about your health, incorporating exercise into your daily routine at home can significantly improve your immune system.
According to scientists, exercise may improve the immune system’s function via one or more of the following methods:
- Removing bacteria from the lungs
- Helping white blood cells circulate faster
- Reducing bacteria buildup
- Lowering stress
As we’ve stated, people in the research field widely accept exercise as a stress reducer. The other items we shared on this list have less scientific backing, but researchers believe they’re still noteworthy, and more information may come once they perform further studies.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours per day at your at-home gym to get these potential immune system-boosting results. Instead, 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity several times per week should offer you some protection and more peace of mind.
6. Enhances Memory Retention
We won’t get too technical on you here, but performing at-home workouts can improve your memory, helping remove the brain fog that some people feel when struggling with mental health.
Exercise effectively improves memory because it increases molecular targets that make it easier to absorb new information and improve one’s ability to form long-term memories.
Exercising more can increase the number of molecular targets, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNFs), in your body. That’s right—there’s a direct correlation between how much you exercise and how many BDNFs you produce.
To supplement your memory retention, you can also keep a journal, share things you want to remember with other people, and perform brain-enhancing tasks like puzzles.
The bottom line is that driving to the gym takes time and energy. But by having an at-home gym, you can harness the brain-enhancing benefits of BDNF.
7. Gives You an Energy Boost
If you have a mental health condition that makes getting out of bed feel challenging, it’s understandably hard to see how exercising can improve your energy levels.
However, there are scientific reasons exercise improves energy—it increases the oxygen supply in your bloodstream. The more oxygen your body has, the more the mitochondria in your cells can produce energy.
For this reason, most people feel more energized after working out than before they started. This energizing quality is another good reason why using at-home gym equipment or workout videos can be an excellent option for improving mental health.
Poor mental health can often leave a person feeling drained. However, by having a small workout area at home, you don’t have to exert extra energy to get to the gym.
Once you start exercising, you’ll likely find that you can push yourself to go longer than expected. Even a small amount of exercise can do wonders for your mitochondria and energy levels.
The Bottom Line
Gyms can be intimidating places and are not always the best fit for people managing their mental health. Instead, you can create a safe space in your home to exercise with a minimal financial investment.
When preparing to start an at-home workout routine, we encourage you to set small, easy-to-achieve goals. Doing so will boost your confidence as your body gradually builds strength. Before long, your mind and body should feel more fit and aligned.