How exercise is good for improving mood and reducing stress
Participation in sport is not just physically good for you, it has many mental health benefits as well. Physical activity can help improve mood by providing an opportunity to release pent-up energy; to take some ‘time-out’ from worries and problems; to connect with other people, and to feel good about doing something positive for yourself. Exercise can trigger endorphins in the brain which are associated with feeling happier and more relaxed and this
can help reduce the production of stress hormones. Exercise can also help you sleep. And all of these factors can help reduce feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety and stress.
How non-contact boxing can provide additional mental health benefits
Sports such as (non-contact) boxing may be particularly well-suited to helping people cope with mental health problems and manage difficult times in their lives. This is because non-contact boxing provides participants with focused and disciplined activity. This can help with managing distressing feelings such as anger, sadness, despair and hopelessness as it takes people away from these difficult feelings that can otherwise be over-whelming and all- consuming. Boxing training – even for a short time – takes the focus away from problems, worries and heartache by encouraging people to focus on the here and now. Having this space gives people renewed mental energy that they can use to make sense of their problems and process their worries and their heartache outside of the boxing gym. Non-contact boxing can also provide a context in which people can let someone else do the thinking for a while – as they let their coach work out and manage a programme for them. Non-contact boxing can provide a means of anger management as negative energy can be released in a healthy manner. Non-contact boxing can help build participants’ ability to concentrate and build determination through repetition of activities. Boxing can also reduce isolation: a major cause and effect of mental ill-health. Gyms are social environments and people are encouraged to support each other and to develop their skills and fitness
alongside each other. As such, boxing provides a real opportunity for those struggling with mental health problems, with feelings of sadness, despair, anger, powerlessness and loss to increase their self-esteem and self-confidence, and to develop coping strategies and skills that can help improve mental wellbeing as well as enhance fitness and physical health. This is why Frank Bruno, prince Harry, Rio Ferdinand and many others are all advocates of the mental health benefits of (non-contact) boxing.
Information provided by Dr Sam Warner
Consultant and chartered clinical psychologist