On the evening of Monday 12th October 2020, I joined millions of others who tuned into the latest instalment of the Prime Ministers COVID-19 announcements. Having circled for many days, rumours were finally confirmed; England was set to adopt a three-tier system of restrictions.

During his announcement, the Prime Minister updated the British public of the various restrictions that would be imposed. Amongst the businesses having to close their doors
temporarily, one of the most notable enforcement was the closure of gyms in regions, towns and cities that were placed in the ‘very high’ tier alert.

As gyms across England come to terms with the devastating reality that they may have no choice but to close their doors once again, it is imperative to consider how this will impact
the general wellbeing and mental health of the Great British public. Exercise not only enables us to maintain and improve our physical fitness, but it also ensures that we can protect and preserve our mental health.

The Benefits Exercise Has on Mental Health In 2018, the NHS reported that exercising and staying active reduces the risk of various mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It was further confirmed that individuals that take part in at least 10 minutes of physical activity a day were 17% less to suffer from a mental health disorder.

Mental health charity MIND has also addressed the impact exercise has on mental health. Not only does exercise release endorphins that enhance our moods, but it helps us to develop a resilient mindset. In turn, we feel confident that we can cope with the various feelings that flood our thoughts and confront them head-on.

In addition to the above, there are several benefits that are frequently associated with exercising and mental health. These include, but are not limited to;

– 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.

As touched on above, as well as ascertaining positive thoughts and feelings, exercise enables individuals to create routines. If you regularly visit the gym, you will not be a stranger to routine. In fact, you are likely to embrace the routine that you have adopted.

If this resonates with you, you are not alone. As reported by Psychology Today, when we organise our day-to-day lives and create routines, we are less likely to feel anxious, stressed or worried because we know what to expect throughout the day. MIND contributes to this, stating that developing a daily routine can help us stay grounded and reduce our chances of becoming overwhelmed by the stress and worries of everyday life.

The Impact That Gym Closures Could Have on The Nation

As the benefits exercise has on mental health becomes increasingly apparent, it is clear to see how the closure of gyms may well cause more harm than COVID-19.

Many individuals will be left wondering how they will cope with the stress they feel day in, day out. Others will already feel an increasing amount of anxiety creeping upon them.

Shortly before gyms prepared to reopen in July 2020, the BBC spoke to several individuals. Each of these individuals reported that the ability to visit the gym offered them an outlet for their mental health disorders. One individual stated 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.

Although the closure of gyms may seem necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there is little evidence that suggests that allowing gyms to remain open contributes to the increasing number of cases. In fact, UK Active has recently reported that COVID-19 has a low presence within fitness facilities. This is because fitness facilities have implemented various strategies, including proper ventilation and cleaning regimes that enable them to remain safe for users. 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. A mere 40 of these confirmed cases have been reported by gym users.

How We Can Support You at Rehab Clinics Group

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 centres, mental health disorders are often at the forefront of addictions that we treat.

Having determined that conventional therapy does not always provide the most significant results for individuals suffering from mental health disorders, we have devised numerous wellbeing therapies. These therapies encourage our clients to achieve their recovery goals through a range of activities including art, drama, music and self-help. We also host various social activities, which include daily group walks and leisure outings. Not only do these social activities enable private rehab residents to embrace the great outdoors, but they allow them to truly appreciate the positive impact exercise has on their mental health.

Regardless of whether you are suffering from anxiety, stress or depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are struggling to cope. We understand that the ability to take advantage of fitness facilities is paramount to your wellbeing. Having that taken away can have catastrophic consequences.

Please remember that although you may feel anxious or increasingly worried at this present moment in time, you will overcome these emotions. Having overcome my own personal troubles, I am confident that you will too.