We all know that exercise and being active is imperative to staying fit and healthy. But have you ever thought about the positive impact your workout is having on your mind?
Physical activity creates changes in your brain, an increase in endorphins that can substantially transform your mood. The surge of ‘happy’ hormones can be particularly helpful for those that have mild depression, it can protect against feelings of anxiety and the sense of achievement that results from working out is likely to raise your self-esteem. All these positive effects make it easier to rise to daily challenges.
Clubbercise®, which was a concept that came to life in 2014 when three friends started a single class, now has approx. 100,000 participants and 2,000 instructors. It’s the no heels, no hangover, no brainer for having a fun night out that helps you feel better.
Recently, Clubbercise® published the results of a well-being survey which asked 700 people about their mental health. A whopping 86% of respondents claimed to have felt the mental health benefits of regular dance fitness sessions with Clubbercise® and Zumba reported as the most popular among this group.
A spokesperson for Clubbercise® said: “Around half reported that their mental health had significantly improved. The most common reasons for this included the music, the exercise and movement and the fact that it’s fun and enjoyable. People also value the ‘me time’ away from sources of stress and anxiety, in a supportive, non-judgemental environment”.
Clubbercise® is brilliant for everyone including seasoned class goers, however, because classes take place in a dark room with disco lights and glow sticks, it is also great for those that have the fear that everyone will be looking at how they are dancing. Jen, now an avid class attendee, was diagnosed with depression at 18. “My mental illness turned me into someone who I have never seen as my true self. I changed from a super-bubbly and outgoing person to someone who was extremely anxious and unmotivated”.
Lou, Jen’s friend, introduced her to the class and after joining the ‘glow family’ in January 2018 she was completely hooked. “The idea that the class is done in the dark is one of the things that makes it so uniquely empowering for someone who is uncomfortable in public scenarios like I used to be”.
Jen attributes her new positive outlook to the class. “I was told by someone not too long ago that you need to find something that is worth living for, something to help you make the right decision on your darkest days. Although it’s cheesy, Clubbercise® is just that for me and I think that if it weren’t for the class, and the instructor, Anna, and my friend Lou, I wouldn’t be here anymore. Dramatic, but oh so true.”
Corrie, who was under the care of mental health services for 14 years, at one time spending 11 months in hospital, found it difficult to find the motivation to take part in exercise. “Staff did everything to try to encourage me to exercise, saying that it would improve my mental health and that I desperately needed to for my physical health (I was very overweight due to an eating disorder)”. After leaving hospital, it was easy for Corrie to fall back into not being active as her key worker wasn’t there to escort her on walks or to classes.
Two years after leaving hospital she started volunteering and this was when her colleague told her about a new class a friend had set up and suggested that Corrie come along. “I said I couldn’t imagine anything worse, but she insisted and said it’d be fine as she hated exercise too, was completely uncoordinated but that it was in the dark with glow sticks, so we’d be fine! I only went because she insisted, and I didn’t want to feel left out of the group going”.
Corrie really enjoyed the class, “I honestly don’t know what made the difference - probably being with friends, it being music I love, the dark, the glow sticks and being in a bit of a better place (still quite unwell though).” She’s been taking part in classes for over a year and as well as losing weight, she has made friends and feels that her mental health is the most stable it has ever been.
Clubbercise® has been an important tool in tackling her negative experiences with mental health. Corrie attributes being discharged from mental health services in June, not being admitted to A&E for self-harm or overdoses in months, and more stability with her bipolar disorder and eating disorder to her newfound passion for exercise.
“I can’t believe the changes in myself and I do put walking into that Clubbercise® class as one of my biggest turning points!”
These inspirational stories are a terrific example of how exercise can help to alleviate some of the symptoms surrounding mental health.
We’d like to thank both Jen and Corrie for sharing their stories with us. If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, you can find more information and support via these links www.mentalhealth.org.uk and www.mind.org.uk
If you are interested in trying a group exercise class or a Clubbercise® class, find your closest one click hereFind a fitness class near you