Updated: Jun 5
On Monday 12th October, the Prime Minister confirmed the many rumours that had begun to circulate in the previous days; England was set to adopt a three-tier system of restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Throughout his announcement, the Prime Minister established that the new three-tier system of restrictions would feature a ‘medium’ ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert. For those in cities and regions where the ‘medium’ and ‘high’ alert is present, restrictions would remain similar to those already imposed. However, those in areas where the ‘very high’ alert is present are to face far stricter enforcements. These restrictions will temporarily force various businesses to shut their doors once again. Among those expected to close are gyms and leisure centres.
As gyms across the country come to terms with the fact that they have to close once again, at Rehab Clinics Group, we believe it is imperative to consider how this will impact the mental health of millions across the country.
The Benefits Exercise Has on Our Mental Health
From releasing endorphins that boost our moods to reducing the number of people suffering from mental health conditions, exercise has several optimistic benefits on our mental health.
A study conducted in the United States determined that out of 1.2 million people questioned, those that exercised at least three times a week were found to have 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month. Contributing to this research, the NHS reports that staying active and participating in at least 10 minutes of physical activity each day saw individuals 17% less likely to suffer from a mental health disorder.
In addition to the research outlined by studies conducted across the world, here at Rehab Clinics Group we have found that implementing wellbeing activities such as daily group walks has had a profound impact on our client’s mental health. Just some of the benefits frequently associated with exercising and mental health include;
- Exercising increases our self-esteem and self-confidence, in turn helping to reduce anxiety and depression.
- Exercising can assist those suffering from mental health disorders wean off of their medication.
- Exercising helps us to relax and keep our worries at bay.
- Exercise aids a better night’s sleep, minimising the chances of suffering from insomnia.
- Exercise provides us with a positive outlook on our day.
- Exercise enables us to create routines that offer a sense of control over our thoughts and feelings.
How The Closure Of Gyms Could Impact Mental Health
As mental health charity MIND confirms that exercise helps individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder develop a resilient mindset, the closure of gyms could see many unable to cope with the various feelings that flood their thoughts.
Before the reopening of gyms in July 2020, the BBC spoke to several individuals to gauge how the ability to workout impacted their mental health. Those questioned all stated that the ability to visit the gym offered them an outlet for their mental health disorders. One individual commented that they used the gym as a coping mechanism. At the same time, another added that regularly exercising provided them with control over their mental health disorder. As the new restrictions are announced, I cannot help but turn my thoughts to how those that use physical activity to combat their mental health disorders must feel.
Many individuals will be left to find other methods to help them cope with the stress they feel day in, day out. Others may already feel an increasing amount of anxiety creeping upon them.
With ever-growing evidence that physical activity contributes to a more significant mental health, the closure of gyms could have a somewhat negative impact. In turn, those suffering from mental health disorders are more likely to become pessimistic and have a bleak outlook.
Evidence Highlights That Gyms Do Not Contribute to The Spread of COVID-19
Although the closure of gyms may seem necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across the country, there is very little evidence that suggests that permitting gyms to remain open contributes to the ever-increasing number of cases.
UK Active recently published a report that determines COVID-19 has a low presence within fitness facilities. It is believed that this is due to various strategies being implemented in gyms to ensure that they remain safe for users. These strategies include proper ventilation and enhanced cleaning regimes.
The organisation further reported that out of the 22 million individuals that have entered fitness facilities in the last two months, there have only been 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Gym users have reported only 40 of these confirmed cases.
How Rehab Clinics Group Can Support Individuals Battling with Their Mental Health
As determined, enabling gyms to remain open is so important for an individual’s mental health. Not only is it proven that regular exercise has numerous benefits on our physical health, but on our mental health too. However, should you find yourself struggling, we are here to support you.
At Rehab Clinics Group, we have a comprehensive understanding of the many benefits that exercise has on mental health recovery. From my personal experiences to the recovery of individuals that have walked into our private rehab clinics, mental health disorders and addictions are often at the forefront of what we treat.
Regardless of what mental health disorder or addiction you may be living with, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We understand that the ability to take advantage of fitness facilities is paramount to your well-being. Taken away, it can have catastrophic consequences.
As you feel an overwhelming sense of emotions, I ask you to look back on the progress that you have potentially already made with regards to your mental health. While the days may seem somewhat gloomy, you may have already overcome some of your darkest moments. It can be challenging to remain positive, especially if your town or city is forced to close their gyms. Still, just like I have defeated my own personal troubles, I am confident that you can too.