Exercising for Mental Health

Inspire Blog |

Exercising is a powerful medicine for the mental health challenges that people face. From improving sleep patterns, relieving stress, having a positive mind-set and aiding relaxation; exercise can be used to help you feel better and improve your wellbeing.

Sally Page joined Lincs Inspire in September 2017. Before this Sally, aged 60 and from Grimsby, was struggling with her mental health and recovering from a breakdown.

Depression led to weight gain and at 13 stone, Sally knew that she needed to do something and had the strength of mind to take the right steps to improve her lifestyle.

At first, Sally’s confidence was low but she had the courage to step foot into Grimsby Leisure Centre.

I’d been very ill but medication was helping. When I started to feel a bit better, I was in town one day and caught my reflection in a mirror. That’s when I decided to do something about my weight. Because of my mental health problems, I found it hard to walk into the leisure centre. But I was determined to do it and get over it.

Sally Page Lincs Inspire Member

Sally started swimming three times a week. Struggling to swim even 10 lengths, perseverance and determination meant that her stamina quickly improved. After a fortnight Sally was managing 15 lengths and seeing the benefits; clothes were starting to feel that little bit looser.

Sally added: “I then began using the gym to see if I could get the weight off any quicker. After 18 months I lost 5 stone through a carefully managed fitness programme where I used a full range of equipment including the rowing machine, treadmill, Stairmaster and even free weights.

“Now there is no going back and I also love doing the group exercise classes. It’s been hard work but I’m now a size 8 to 10 and mentally in a much better place.”

Studies have shown a biological link between depression and weight gain.

Lincs Inspire’s instructors support members on their own journeys and provide the right advice, monitor progression and adapt fitness programmes to fast track results.

Mo Bokta, Fitness Instructor at Grimsby Leisure Centre said:

"The fitness industry can have a stigma with regards to foods, wrongly advising you that you need to eat nutritious and fresh foods all the time, but as we know some people can’t afford or like all the nutritious foods. People also think that you need to starve to get results, however all we need to think about is portion size or choices on food types on what you can eat more of or not. We definitely need to fuel our bodies in a right way when we exercise, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy food and drinks or even socialise to get results. Sally has done an amazing job by being consistent with nutrition and an exercise plan."

Working hard to keep the weight off, Sally doesn’t deprive herself of treats. She now enjoys a full social life, spends quality time with her granddaughter and even kept running outdoors during the covid pandemic when the gyms were closed.

Sally added: “I didn’t know anyone when I came into the gym but it’s like a little club; everyone is so welcoming. I love it so much and if anyone was suffering like I was, just come and give it a go.”