Release Stress and Work on Mental Health at the Gym

Woman using Cables, Bench, Weights
Woman using Cables, Bench, Weights

Focus on Your Mental Health at Xercise4Less

You may think that attending the gym is something that is helpful for your physical health and that it’s mainly for people who want to lose weights or build muscle but this isn’t always the case. Yes, Xercise4Less gyms are perfect for those things but we also encourage people to join us if they want to make a positive impact on their mental health.

We’re proud to provide our members with access to a wide range of equipment and facilities meaning that everyone is able to focus on their individual goals and unique health and fitness journey. Attending the gym regularly is also really positive to help with stress release and de-cluttering your mind; especially after a difficult and anxiety-filled few months.

Join a Friendly and Fun Fitness Community

When you join Xercise4Less, you become part of a community and a family. Every time you come to the gym, you have the option to surround yourself with likeminded people who will encourage you through your gym journey. This includes our members and staff.

A great thing that will allow you to work on your mental health and release stress is by attending our group exercise classes. From the moment you step into one of our classes, you’ll feel welcome and part of a community. Our motivational and encourage instructors will talk you through each movement to make sure you’re comfortable and reaching your potential. As you’re taking part in the class, you’ll be able to speak to and laugh along with your fellow members which will hopefully help you forget about your stresses and worries and most importantly, have fun.

Having fun with exercise is one of the best ways to release endorphins and improve your wellbeing. Once you release endorphins, your mindset will improve and you’ll be able to think clearer and bit more positively.

Focus on Your Individual Health Journey

If you’re the type of person who prefers working out alone, our gyms also offer you the opportunity to do exactly that. If you’re having a difficult day and find that you’re struggling with your mental health, exercise just could be the ‘drug’ that your body is calling out for.

Stick your headphones on and navigate your way around your local Xercise4Less gym and spend some time putting yourself first and making your health and fitness a top priority in your life. If you’re having a bad day, it might take you a while to get into your rhythm. As soon as you do though, your mind will stop thinking about the negative and you’ll soon be focusing on your workout and what piece of equipment you’ll be using next.

For stress release, we recommend sticking on some headphones or listening to our motivational tunes and heading to the free weight zone. There’s something quite liberating about picking up some dumbbells, swinging kettlebells or slamming medicine balls. Including some weight training in your workout routine may work wonders for your stress release and mental health. Cardio zones could also be really beneficial for your mental health too. Low intensity training such as long distance walks on the treadmills or long stationary bike rides will be great for your mental health. Whilst you’re doing this, you’ll be focusing on something else other than the difficult thoughts and feelings inside your head. The moment that you start exercising, you’ll be distracted and once those endorphins start working their way around your body, those worries and stresses that you entered your Xercise4Less gym with, will hopefully be a distant memory.

Focusing on Your Health and Fitness at Home

Whilst we’re working on reopening our gyms and waiting for the day we can allow you to use our gyms again, we’ve been providing existing and new members access to an amazing selection of online fitness tools to help them stay focused during lockdown.

Why not sign up today and join us? By becoming part of our community, you’ll have exclusive access to these tools. We’ve recently launched a brand new Fitness On-Demand platform which means that you can now access our Live and On-Demand classes instantly from the X4L app. We’re now running 140+ classes via that platform including Les Mills BodyCombat, BodyAttack, GRIT, Legs, Bums and Tums, Zumba, Yoga and many more.

Our Personal Trainers have also designed a wide selection of @Home Workouts that you can follow with little to no equipment needed. These workouts all come with a video instruction that take you through the full workout and show you how to perform each exercise safely.

Become part of our amazing fitness community today. It’s never too late to kickstart your fitness and focus on your health so come and join us by signing up today.

Exercise at Home for Your Mental Health

Woman Stretching on Yoga Mat
Woman Stretching on Yoga Mat

Exercise is Essential for Your Mental Health

Before we had to close our gyms under Government instruction, you may have been visiting the gym on a regular basis to help you move closer your fitness goals. Whilst you were doing this, it had a very positive impact on your mental health without you even realising it. Regular exercise works wonders for your wellbeing and mental strength. Now that our gyms are temporarily closed, try to remain focused on your fitness and include regular exercise into your daily routine to help you get feel happier and healthier.

Optimising Sleep Blog - Home Exercise

Establishing an Exercise Routine At Home

Self-isolation can be hard but something that will help you get through is establishing a daily or weekly routine. If you usually head to the gym first thing in a morning, still wake up early and do what you can from home. Similarly, if you’re a night owl, get that workout in just before winding down for the evening.

Something as simple as this can work wonders for your mental health because you’re still doing something productive regularly whether you workout for 15 minutes or an hour. Once your workout is over, endorphins will start flowing around your body and you’ll feel much more positive and uplifted. At times, especially when you feel stuck at home, it can be difficult to motivate yourself but remind yourself how good you’ll feel afterwards to give yourself the extra boost that you need.

Whilst you’re unable to use our equipment and facilities, don’t let that you push you backwards and reverse any progress and hard work. Try not to get too caught up in what you should be or could be doing, instead, make the most of the extra time you’ve got at home now. This could be doing a circuit workout in your living room, an upper body routine in your garden or going outside for a run for your one form of outdoor daily exercise. Every bit of exercise you’re doing at home will positively impact your mental health.

Dumbbells at Home Equipment

How Exercise Can Help Your Mental Health

Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, you may experience some high days and some low days but one thing that you can do every day to make you feel better is moving your body. As soon as you start exercising, you’ll stop worrying about the negatives and will start to boost your overall mood as you focus on your next movement or getting through the workout. You’ll start to boost your mental strength as well as your physical strength so that the next time you do experience low mood or you’re lacking motivation, you’ll know to turn to exercise to make yourself feel better.

Try not to worry about what others are doing around you; you know yourself and your abilities so focus on that and follow exercise routines that will help you feel healthy and happy. Including regular exercise in your daily routine will help you relieve stress, improve your sleep and prevent the flow of worries and negative thoughts.

Exercise at Home to Suit You and Your Goals

Do you remember why you joined our gyms in the first place? Whether that was to help you lose weight, build up strength and muscle, tone and condition or have a positive impact on your mental health, you can still do that at home whilst our gyms are temporarily closed.

You’re not going to cancel out any of that hard work if you continue to exercise at home whether it’s low or high intensity. We understand how important your fitness journey is to you and that’s why we’ve created a wide range of @Home Workouts for different fitness abilities and fitness goals so that everyone can focus on their physical and mental health at home.

Use this time to try something new a try like Stretch or Balance or continue to follow your typical gym routine with Push, Pull and Full Body. Continue to exercise, establish a positive routine, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you when we re-open.

How The Gym Can Help You to Become Mentally Stronger

Woman doing Smith Machine Squat
Woman doing Smith Machine Squat

Using the gym to improve your mental health

Everyone is fighting their own battles that most of us are never even aware of. Sometimes you might feel like your head is going to explode because of everything going on in there and you’re not sure of where to start – but that’s where the gym comes in.

From the moment when you step into an Xercise4Less Gym, you will be greeted by our friendly staff who will make you feel welcome. You have the option of taking part in fitness classes to become part of our fitness community by meeting new people. You could do a solo workout; stick your headphones on and zone out to try forget about all the noise inside your head until you feel a bit better. Use gym sessions as a bit of escapism to distract yourself from the worries and stresses in your life. 

Gyms are heavily focused on physical health and of course, Xercise4Less Gyms help to get you fitter, stronger and tone your body, but they can help you with your mental health too. Mental health is just as important as your physical health and even plays a bigger part into your general health and wellbeing and how you feel day-to-day.

Sheffield Battle Ropes

Focus on your mental strength

Using the gym isn’t always about weight loss or muscle gain and as The People’s Gym, we understand that. If you suffer from an eating disorder and your weight is something that affects your mental health, the gym isn’t something you should avoid. The gym can actually help you to build up your mental strength.

After a hard day or week, take yourself down to your nearest Xercise4Less gym and see that as YOUR time. Make some time for you and make your mental health strength a priority. That’s your time to not worry about your weight and eating disorder but to be part of a friendly and inclusive community where your brain stops worrying and starts to think more positively. You can make your gym session as difficult as you like. You could do a 15- minute walk on the treadmill or a full hour using free weights; whatever it is that you enjoy doing and that will leave you feeling a bit happier and mentally stronger once your gym session is over. It’s proven that your body produces endorphins during exercise – endorphins trigger a positive feeling within the body and lift your mood especially once you’ve finished exercise. That’s something that we all could do with more of.

Men Cardio Cross Trainers

Work on your health and fitness journey

After a few gym visits, you’ll hopefully start to develop some kind of a gym routine. Again, this could look however you want to suit you. You may visit the gym every single or day or only 1-2 times a week. Whichever way, you’ll hopefully start to notice that the time that you’re spending in the gym makes you feel happier and makes you feel a bit mentally stronger. Once you start to build up more of this mental strength, you may feel more capable of dealing with the problems that are bothering you and at the centre of your mental health and eating disorder issues. This is a positive and may be the first step to you help.

Everyone that you see an Xercise4Less gym is on some kind of fitness journey. Just because you’re not in the gym to gain weight or lose weight in the first instance, doesn’t mean that you’re on an important journey and it’s important that you have the time to focus on that. It’s also important that you feel supported to make progress. At Xercise4Less Gyms you’ll find staff, instructors and personal trainers that can offer advice on how you can use your gym to suit you and your personal goals.

Whilst they won’t be able to advise you what to do regarding your eating disorder and your mental health, they can show you how you can use The People’s Gym to your advantage to suit your health and fitness journey. This may mean taking part in our gym classes and becoming part of a community which allows you to feel happier and included. It also presents an opportunity to meet new people who may share your problems. That may mean using the Ladies Only zone to spend some time focusing on yourself in a more intimate setting to allow you to build up some mental and physical confidence.

Ladies Only Workout

Join the Xercise4Less Gyms community

Take the first steps towards become mentally stronger by using Xercise4Less Gyms. We are proud of our friendly staff and inclusive community in our gyms and welcome people from all backgrounds and experiences to join us. Whether you’ve never stepped foot into a gym before or are an experience gym goer, join the Xercise4Less community today and take those all important first steps onto your health and fitness journey.

Our members find everything they need to reach their personal goals in regard to health and fitness from our friendly staff to dedicated Ladies Only gym zone, special Spin studio or group fitness classes including Les Mills workouts and also toning and conditioning.

Boost Mental Health With Group Fitness Classes

Improve your state of mind through group fitness

Exercise is great for your physical health and working out in your local Xercise4Less gym is equally good for your mind. Being fitter helps greatly with mental health as research has shown that exercise can lower your stress levels, improve your mood and even decrease any symptoms of anxiety you may be feeling. But did you know that going to a group fitness class can be even more beneficial than working out solo?

Some recent studies have reported that people who took group exercise classes reported less stress and more emotional and mental benefits than those who worked on their fitness alone or didn’t go to the gym at all. We pride ourselves at Xercise4Less Gyms in being a friendly and supportive fitness community for all our members as they lift weights or run on the treadmill. But we see how our inclusive group exercise classes can give the minds and moods of our gym members an even greater boost as they enjoy some fitness fun with new encouraging friends.

So, why is it better to work out with other people than by yourself?

Make new fitness friends

You start to build relationships with the other people in the room when you’ve been through a tough spin class or Zumba fitness session together!  You can develop positive friendships thanks to the shared experience of working out hard in your inclusive classes at Xercise4Less Gyms. Connecting with someone who has shared workout interests will keep your fitness journey on track as you won’t want to let them down by missing a session. 

It’ll also keep you motivated to keep going during the class as your competitive instincts kick in. But you can also enjoy further mental benefits of having fitness friends by keeping in touch online through our hubs or social media. Social time spent with your group of new fitness friends will help to perk up your mood.

Woman in Fitness Class with Barbell

Groups have more fun

Let’s be honest, sometimes going to the gym on your own just isn’t that exciting! Perhaps your workout schedule is starting to feel stale? Put the fun back into fitness when you join a group workout session. Our inclusive fitness classes just make working out a lot more fun. 

With the music blaring, the buzzy atmosphere and the positive energy of your fellow classmates, it will make it more likely that you’ll make it through to the end in better spirits. The variety of inclusive fitness classes available to our members also mean you can have some fun and keep your fitness plan fresh by trying different classes to suit your workout mood.

Group Exercise Class

Draw on the support of group exercise classes

There is real strength in numbers at Xercise4Less Gyms. Working out on your own is a great way of coping with stress and anxieties; you can sometimes lose yourself in your workout. But the positive energy given to you by being spurred on by a supportive group of friends in one of our fitness classes is truly empowering. Not only can the encouragement of your classmates push you harder than training alone, but you benefit from real emotional support not just for your fitness journey but for your life in general through a proper support network of workout buddies.

Group fitness classes will renew your motivation

Going to the gym regularly and working out the same way week after week can sometimes take a toll. It’s vital to keep refreshing your fitness programme to retain that motivation to lose weight, build muscle or tone your body. Group exercise classes are very helpful in ensuring that you don’t fall out of love with fitness. When you’re a member of Xercise4Less Gyms you get to choose from up to 40 free fitness classes as part of your gym membership. You’ll keep yourself interested and your muscles guessing with the amazing variety offered by our range of group exercise classes. You get to try something different and if it wasn’t what you were looking for, you can just change it!

Man Doing Plank in Gym

Exercise your mind with Xercise4Less Gyms

Work out your body and brain with an Xercise4Less Gyms membership. Strengthen your mind body connection by trying some group exercise classes. Join fitness classes designed to get your heart racing and your metabolism ramped up and get all the positive benefits of being part of a real gym community.

Group exercise classes are only a part of our fantastic gym facilities though. Reap the brain benefits of exercising in our innovative gym areas like our Ladies Only Gym Zone. Harness the huge mental benefits of working out in our spacious Spin Studio or Combat Zone with MMA cage. Whatever you need to transform your mental and physical transformation, you’ll find it at your local Xercise4Less gym.

Mental Health & Body Image

How Do You Feel about Your Body?

Amazing? Empowered? Happy? Healthy? Liberated? They’re just some of the positive words our members use for those great days when they feel great about their body. But of course, even at Xercise4Less gyms we don’t always feel happy about how we look. And that has a big impact on our mental health.

We know that a positive body image is key to better “overall well being and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours”. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 20% of adults polled felt ‘shame’ or ‘disgust’ because of their body, while 34% felt ‘down’ or ‘low’ when they considered their body image.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we decided to survey our members and social media followers to get a better sense of how they really feel about their bodies. You can also find out what our head office staff said here!  

So, what did our 526 survey respondents think?

Gym Members of Every Possible Body Shape

At Xercise4Less Gyms everyone is welcome whatever your body shape is and whatever your fitness goals are. Our friendly fitness team and Personal Trainers are there not to judge but to support you whether you’re working towards a body building competition or just want to work off your Christmas dinner. We’re focused on improving your health and well being, for us strong is not a size!

In our survey of a Xercise4Less gym members, we asked ‘how happy are you with your body?’. While almost 35% said they were ‘Not happy at all’, encouragingly over 62% said they were ‘A little happy’ or ‘Mostly happy’ with how their bodies look. That’s very important as our self-esteem can be hit badly by a negative body image and those body image concerns can endure from child to adult and affect both women and men.

 We work closely with our members to motivate them for work outs, so it was interesting to see how often they felt 100% positive about their bodies? Over 40% said they ‘Never’ felt good about their body image while 24% had a positive image of their body ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Half the time’. Just over 10% of our respondents felt positive about their bodies ‘Always’.

What causes those negative body images?

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A Real Concern About Your Body Image

If you’ve ever felt down about your body, you’re far from alone. According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 70% of teenagers and adults have either been anxious or depressed directly because of their body image.

Our view of our own body is affected in very many different ways, but we are heavily influenced by how our family and friends talk about appearance and by our exposure to unrealistic body images through advertising and social media.

You might think then that taking ‘gym selfies’ would be a wholly negative thing. Our gym members would seem to disagree. Of those who take ‘gym selfies’, most are concerned with positive progression rather than an obsession with how others perceive them. Xercise4Less gym members think gym selfies give them a sense of achievement, make them proud, and instill confidence in their future fitness journey. As for other people taking gym selfies, the members of our gyms feel inspired rather than depressed, “good on them” being the attitude.

Working Out the Best Mental Approach for Your Health 

We can work with you at Xercise4Less gyms to work out how to get the best from your fitness programme but why do our members and social media followers exercise? Simply, the positive feelings that our members get about themselves and their bodies.

When asked how would they describe those days when they were feeling positive? The replies range from “I’m happy I’m alive” and “I’m positive about how I am” to “I am me, what could be better?” or “like I can conquer the word”.  Positive-feeling members also used words like “Strong”, “Confident”, “Glowing” and even “Plumpicious”!

The benefits of regular exercise sound pretty good, don’t they?

A Healthy Transformation with Xercise4Less Gyms

At Xercise4Less we see ourselves as a supportive community of fitness enthusiasts. We provide the motivational support our gym members need as they start their fitness journey or as they continue to transform their body. We understand that being supported is vital because many studies have shown that body appreciation is tied to consistent well being and fewer dieting problems.

There are things however that you can do as an individual to take better care of yourself. If you find that your body image is getting you down, why not speak to a health professional or a friend that you can trust? Or work with one of our Personal Trainers on realistic fitness goals. Take time out too to appreciate the strides that you’ve already made in the gym or look forward to the payoff for joining a People’s Gym. Try to not pay too much attention either to the unrealistic body images presented on social media, on TV or in glossy magazines.

Whether you want to transform your body shape or just have some fun exercising, we are there to support you every step of the way, mind and body.

 Join X4L Gyms Today

5 Reasons Why Exercise Lifts Your Mood

treatment. At Xercise4Less Gyms we see our members increasing their energy levels daily; feeling better about their bodies and improving their confidence and self-esteem through exercise.

So, we were happy for one of our members at Xercise4Less Leeds Kirkstall, Jess Geary to share her own gym experience with her 5 Reasons Why Exercise Lifts Your Mood. Take it away Jess!

1: Exercise Energises Your Mental Health

There are a variety of ways in which exercise can improve your mental health. Firstly, working out increases your level of endorphins- which are natural mood lifters. Exercise also increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep, and appetite. Sleep patterns are massively improved by tiring yourself out through exercise. This helps protect your brain from damage, and safeguards your muscle health. Finally, exercise reduces the chemicals in our immune system which cause us to feel down.

For Jess, “going to the gym really helped me through some really difficult times”. A gym workout can really help you feel a sense of achievement, as well. “I would go to the gym for around 45 minutes and would come out feeling as if I’d accomplished something good”. That led to feeling “really proud of myself for doing a great workout and eventually seeing the results”.

2: Working Out Help You Make New Gym Friends

Jess knows that exercising can also be a really good way to socialise; “you are bound to meet people in the gym if you are going regularly, or even with your friends!” It makes a nice change from going down the pub or sitting around in a coffee shop. As Jess puts it, it’s a super healthy and different way to socialise with people who have similar interests to you.” Exercising with your new friends or a gym buddy group can also motivate you to stick to your workout routine for longer.

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3: Improve Your Brain Function with Exercise

Working out increases your heart rate which pumps more oxygen to the brain so “sometimes after a gym session, you can leave feeling much more awake and sharp”. Exercise also encourages the release of hormones which help grow brain cells. Your red face after a tough gym session is just great for those little grey cells!

4: Leave the Gym with a Feeling of Accomplishment

Creating a fitness plan and sticking to it gives you a real sense of achievement. Jess certainly feels that after her workouts, “one of the main reasons exercise lifts my mood is because I leave the gym having accomplished something”. Completing a tough workout gives a sense of achievement that improves your mood and mindset for the day ahead, just as soon as those endorphins kick in! “It’s a super-effective way to keep your mind focused on something, even just doing a small 30-minute workout can make me feel much better about the day”.

Working out regularly will soon show some physical improvements. Commit to exercising longer-term and soon you won’t be the only one to notice how your body’s changing. It’s a real mood enhancer for Jess when people start to pay attention, “a really great feeling when people start to notice you’ve been going to the gym”. Everyone loves a compliment so “this is a really simple and effective way to boost your mood”.

A Positive Change to Your Mood

Reaping the mental health benefits of exercise as Jess describes is easier than you think. Just join Xercise4Less Gyms! Get all the advantages of working out in an inclusive community of friendly people keen to get fitter. Strive towards realistic fitness targets at your local gym. Work out the best value gym membership for you to lift your mood by joining Xercise4Less today.

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Overcoming Diabulimia with Beth from Wigan

Taking Care of Both Your Mind and Your Body with Xercise4Less Gyms

Sometimes it can be hard to understand how connected our physical fitness is to our mental wellbeing. And sometimes a breakdown in our mental strength can lead to a life-threatening situation for our bodies. That’s what happened to one of our Xercise4Less Wigan Personal Trainers, Beth.

In 2012, just before her 12th birthday, Beth was unfortunately diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She found it very difficult to deal with her new-found medical condition. As Beth admitted, “it hit me hard”. To add to her weakened physical health, she found caring for her condition mentally draining. Beth explains that “after years of hating the same routine every day, I stopped looking after my diabetes”.

Soon her medical situation spun out of control, she “let it control me” and “before I knew it, I had diabulimia and depression”. Beth lost so much weight that at one point she weighed shockingly just 3 and a half stone and was close to death as the picture on the left shows all too clearly.

Thankfully Beth managed to pull herself out of this serious situation with a lot of mental hard work and the help of exercise. These days she is happier than ever and weighs a healthy 10 and a half stone as you can see in the picture on the right.

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The Struggle to Overcome Eating Disorders

The type of eating disorder that Beth suffered from is increasingly common in the UK’s population with society’s unhealthy focus on the ‘perfect’ body shape. Women, in particular, suffer from bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. Beth suffered from diabulimia: an eating disorder common in a diabetic where the person purposefully restricts insulin to lose weight.

Diabulimia is also desperately common with up to a third of women with Type 1 diabetes and even higher levels among the 15-30 age group. The consequences of diabulimia can be severe, leading to organ damage, stroke and even death, which Beth came close to.

So how did Beth manage to pull herself and her body back from the brink?

Realising a Positive Body Image through Exercise

As Beth says, “everyone has a goal in life” and initially when she had started to recover from her weakened physical condition and low mental state, her goal was to get fit. Then her goal was to join the Marines. She worked hard to “smash my goal” but due to her health condition that ambition proved just out of reach.

When she recalibrated her personal goals though, Beth realised that becoming a Personal Trainer at the Xercise4Less Wigan Gym would enable her to “help others achieve their goals” as well as allowing her to “understand and enjoy fitness” for herself. Working at our inclusive gym in Wigan, she quickly realised that she wasn’t bothered about being “the most athletic or the muscliest or the slimmest”.

Beth didn’t focus on her body image, she worked out “to be healthy” and “to control my diabetes rather than it controlling me”. She wanted to be “strong inside and out” and never experience diabulimia again. Exercising in a friendly and supportive gym every day meant Beth could avoid judging her body and “just focus on a better you”.

Strengthen Your Mental Health and Wellbeing with Xercise4Less Gyms

Beth wanted to share her story to inspire our gym community. Her experience shows that no matter your fitness level or how low you’re feeling, working out at your local gym can be hugely beneficial. As you’ve seen with Beth, exercise has been a constant strength in her struggle with health issues and with mental depression.

When you join our Wigan gym or work out at any of Xercise4Less gyms, you’ll be part of a real community of supportive and likeminded people who want to improve their physical fitness and their mental wellbeing. You can work with Personal Trainers like Beth who will encourage and motivate you to realise your personal fitness ambitions. Your health is in your own hands, but Xercise4Less Gyms will also be there to hold your hand right through your fitness journey whether you’re ready to join a gym, new to gyms, a casual gym goer or already an experienced gym user.

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Week 6 – Eliminating Stress

Eliminating stress

Welcome to week 6.

This week we are looking at stress and the best ways to eliminate it from your life.

Causes

Stress is the bodies way of reacting to a stimulus, positive or negative. When something triggers a response (whatever this may be) chemicals are released into the body that help us react. A good example is when something unexpectedly scares you and you find yourself with a sudden rush of energy, increased heart rate and sense of awareness. There are 4 main common causes of stress, these are;

Environmental – like the example above, anything around you that could trigger a response.

Survival – this is the fight or flight response.  If you believe something is a danger to you, your body floods your system with adrenaline, allowing you to react faster, run for longer and have an increase in awareness.

Fatigue – this is often caused by overworking and not giving your body a physical or mental rest. It is very common and can occur at work, school or home. It can also be hard to identify and many times most of us try to just shrug it off and ignore it.

Internal stress – if you have ever caught yourself worrying about a certain situation that you have no control over, or about something silly that really doesn’t have that much of an outcome on your life, you have experienced internal stress.

Sometimes, you may not even know you are stressed, and how we show stress can be very individual. Below are some common symptoms of stress, some of which may surprise you!

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Over or under eating
  • Chest pains
  • Fatigue for no clear reason
  • Sadness or depression
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Restlessness
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss (the bad kind, most is muscle mass!)

Its quite clear from the examples above that stress can have some negative effects on your body, so its also important to understand how to best avoid and eliminate stress from our daily lives.

We’re not big fans of stress at Xercise4less, so we have shared some of our best tips below on how to help manage stress.

  1. Staying positive. At the end of each day, write 3 things you are grateful for or 3 things that made you smile that day. Its surprising how this can affect your mood.
  2. Stay active. Try doing at least one bit of physical activity every day, even if it’s just a small walk.
  3. Work smarter. Prioritise tasks in your life or job that are going to make a bigger difference first.
  4. Reduce or stop unhealthy habits. The main habits are smoking, drinking alcohol, having a poor diet and not sleeping enough.
  5. Don’t be afraid of some ‘me time’. Its perfectly fine to have some time to yourself every now and then.
  6. Don’t stress by yourself! Talking to someone about your stresses can often lead to new ideas on how to solve them, or simply lift the weight off your shoulders from baring it alone.
  7. Take control of your stress. Don’t just sit around and worry about it. Write everything down that could be stressing you and next to it, write as many ways as possible to solve it. Then do it.
  8. Say no. Saying yes to everything can lead to having too much on your plate, which can be stressful. Manage your time well and know how much you can afford to take on at any given time.
  9. Don’t worry about time off if you are ill. This can be from training or from work. Rest is super important, and most of the time the impact of a few days off isn’t going to be substantial to your career or training plan.
  10. Try relaxation techniques. Mindfulness is very good for promoting a calm mind and there are plenty of apps available to download.

Personal Trainer – Paula

Taking Control of Your Mental Health with Exercise

You’ve often heard the phrase ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ and at Xercise4Less gyms we always preach a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, one of our top Personal Trainers wants to share her inspiring tale of overcoming mental health issues thanks to exercise.

Paula, a Personal Trainer at Xercise4Less Darlington gym, was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) over ten years ago. BPD, the most commonly recognised personality disorder, is, according to the NHS “a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others”. As a result, Paula differs “significantly from an average person in terms of how he or she thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others”. BPD is unfortunately incurable but can be managed.

One of the major causes of BPD is personal trauma and Paula has had a very tough journey through life. “I have been abandoned, kidnapped, and bullied and been through every type of abuse you can think of.” On top of BPD Paula has also suffered from “self-harming, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, anxiety, body dysmorphia and recurring eating disorders. Thankfully for the past five years, Paula’s life has been stable and is no longer a “a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs”.

What helped to improve Paula’s mental health?

She started to work out. “The biggest difference between then and now is exercise, my mental health started to improve when I started exercising”.

Finding the Mental Strength to Work Out

It hasn’t been easy for Paula though on her fitness journey. As she admits, “it’s a love hate relationship that I have with exercise”. Mostly she loves the pleasure that fitness sessions give her, “the feeling of accomplishment, achieving something, and of course, the feelgood release of endorphins from working out.” Sometimes, however, she has to work a bit harder to get into the exercise mood, when “the last thing on my mind is lacing up those trainers and going out for a run or heading to Xercise4Less Darlington gym for a workout.”

In the past, overcoming those mental obstacles to exercise was sometimes too much for Paula. Even though she recognised that physical exercise benefited her mental health hugely, she still couldn’t manage to motivate herself to train.

That’s now changed.

Consistent Exercise Leads to Improved Mental Health

Paula knows that “as long as I keep exercising, both my physical and mental health will benefit greatly.” And she manages to keep that up despite leading a very busy life outside of work. Not only is she an expert Personal Trainer at Xercise4Less Darlington gym, Paula is a single mum to a five-year-old and is studying part-time. Even for a motivated Personal Trainer like Paula, it’s not surprising she finds it “hard to find the time to train”. That doesn’t stop her though, she enjoys “getting a good cardio session in when I am teaching Cycle4fiit on Sunday mornings in the gym. In addition to her own training, she has the inspiring support of her training buddies. “I train with my boyfriend after work a few times a week and I also hold running sessions for the local mental health hospital twice a week.”

What would Paula say to people suffering from mental health? “My top tip is simply to keep exercising. The benefits of working out will really help the stability of your mental health.” She also advises to make sure to “get yourself a good network of people to keep you on track. I am lucky to have a very supportive family and partner to help me”.

Change Your Exercise Mentality at Your Local Xercise4Less Gym

Inspired by Paula’s story? Make sure you stay healthy in mind and body by exercising regularly. And where better than your local Xercise4Less gym team.

What Do You Really Think of Your Body?

May 13th marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and this years theme is Body Image. 

Body image issues can affect all of us, at any age, body shape, or gender and while everyone is affected by body image concerns every so often, if it becomes compulsive, then it may become a problem. 

Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition (note: this is different from an eating disorder) where you concentrate on the so-called “flaws” your body has, and feel that you must change yourself through excessive exercising, weighing yourself compulsively and comparing yourself to online images, celebrities or influencers.

It’s OK to want to feel good in yourself, or to want to better yourself in whichever way, but we also need to broaden the standards of what we classify as ‘attractive‘. It’s always changing anyway, so there’s no point in deviating too far from where your body needs to be because at any given time the trend will change from thick thighs to thigh gaps, to abs to curves.

It’s important to remember that there isn’t a single type of beauty – everyone sees it differently. And there simply isn’t a right or a wrong way to look. But if you’re struggling, here are some things you can do.

  • Be kind to yourself and your mind. Try not to compare yourself to the images you see on social media, in magazines or on TV. 
  • Focus on the things you like about yourself, and the parts of your body that you like. We know this can be hard, but at least give it a try!
  • Spend time with people who make you feel positive about yourself. Write down the nice things people say to you, and not just about how you look. Remember, people value you for many reasons rather than just your appearance. 
  • Think about what advice you would give a friend if they told you they were struggling with the way they look, and remember that advice whenever you start having negative thoughts.

If you feel unable to cope, or particularly worried about one part of your body, talk to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.

Stop for a second. Think about how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve sacrificed and all of the troubles you’ve overcome. Be proud of yourself.

Remember the saying “if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you shouldn’t say it to yourself”.