Exercise and Mental Health

I’ve had a bit of an up and down relationship with exercise throughout my life.

During my years of anorexia and OSFED I used exercise as a weapon against myself. I hated it with a passion but still forced myself to do it to the point of agony and absolute exhaustion.

I didn’t exercise for a long time during my second go at recovery. I was fearful of it and where it could take me, and it felt like a risky boundary to cross. I wanted to do it for my health, but at the same time it could have cost me that very thing. However, not long into my third relapse I joined a gym, and although I enjoyed working out at the beginning, it quickly became a chore again. I was going for hours, classes back to back, running, swimming. I was running every lunch break I had. I was exhausted.

protein shake

I took a break after my last course of therapy for a while. When I started back at a new gym I had a different outlook. I didn’t want to be thin anymore, I wanted to be strong. I started doing weights for the first time alongside cardio and really enjoying exercise again. I ran The Great South Run to raise money for Beat, and the Colour Run in Brighton to raise money for Young Minds. I had a great routine going and was following a good program, until I got hit with an episode of depression lasting a few months. I could barely get out of bed, wash or get dressed. Exercising was out of the question.

I felt so disappointed in myself once I started to feel better. I’d lost my routine and my progress and felt like I was back to square one of my fitness journey. It was so hard dragging myself back, but I made it in the end.

Currently, I’m struggling with my motivation. I’m permanently exhausted and I have no routine since I’ve been back doing shift work, which has been a big change that honestly, I’ve not really tried hard enough to adapt to. I’m determined to start working on my health again – it’s important to me to be well and to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and exercise helps with both those things. I always, without question, feel better after I do, I just have to get myself there.

at the gym

I’ve had a personal trainer in the past and I’m considering doing this again as a temporary measure. I’m not interested in losing weight, I just need somebody to be accountable to and who will stop me being lazy!

I’m determined to get myself back on track – I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I just need to remind myself all the positives of taking care of my body, especially after neglecting it for so many years.

It has forgiven me, and it deserves to be treated well.

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Is exercise always good for mental health?


  1. Great post. I suffered depression, similar to you, did not leave the house for months. Yoga helped me to loce myself and to love. Now I share my experience running yoga classes and courses that helps us move through blockages. Most important I am creating a community where we help each other get back on the wagon if we need a little push. Cone and try our classes and hopefully you will find the support you need. I am working with a few students yo help them overcome depression through yoga. Namaste! Benedita

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So inspiring to read you talk so openly about this. I struggle a lot with my mental health, eating and exercise definitely plays a bit part in how I’ve been trying to change my state of mind. I’ve also pushed going to the gym aside, and I’m pleased to say I will be heading back as of next week.

    Good luck, and if you ever find you’re struggling and need someone to talk to my Twitter dms are open (:

    Alys / alysgeorge.blogspot.co.uk

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Please don’t feel disappointed in yourself! You’re right in saying both physical and mental health are important and you’ll be able to pick it back again, when you feel it’s right I’m really struggling to motivate myself to exercise again too – I went for a gym membership last year, and because of my health problems they refused to let me join, which really discouraged me. I’m confident you’ll find your motivation in time! Good luck x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s difficult to get back into the swing of things & even more so when your mood dips. Break it down into smaller chunks to get yourself back into the swing of things. I often over think a visit to the gym to the point I talk myself out it & sometimes pushing myself to go a walk is a good first step. Just remember the good things you’ve done with running and raising money for great charities. Good luck for 2018 & I hope it’s a great year for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can SO relate to this relationship with exercise and mental health in my own way. Mine has changed dramatically over the years. When I was 18, I was obsessed with going to the gym and dieting. I would go to the gym twice a day, limit my calories, all because I had body dysmorphia and wasn’t seeing what I ACTUALLY looked like. Then I developed severe anxiety which pretty much stopped me exercising altogether because I was terrified of leaving the house, getting hot, getting out of bed – basically doing anything. I’ve started doing much more yoga recently and I want to just get fit again. Great post & well done for sharing! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Everyone … quite interesting to see that we’ve all been through the same lack of enthusiasm towards gym or “over-gymming”, taking us through emotional unbalance. I am happy that I found something that gets me out of bed or the house in seconds and that was yoga. If you are around Southampton come and join our community where we lift each other up and help each other when things get tough. Otherwise find a yoga community that you connect to, or an activity that makes excited. Its all about finding your passion. I have found mine and help people find theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post! I have had an unhealthy relationship with food since I was in my late teens.. I am naturally skinny already and for some reason, I just didn’t enjoy food, especially ever since I had the worst food poisoning at a restaurant which led to me having constant stomach issues to this very day. I am so glad that you are determined to make a change! Best of luck and can’t wait to read more from you 🙂 xo


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great post, Thank you sharing your journey so openly. Very inspiring. Best of luck and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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