5 ways exercise improves your mental health

When it comes to fitness goals, there are few more vital than ‘better mental health’. It’s one of the very best outcomes of a regular workout routine. You know exercise is good for you, but do you know what it can do to improve your mood? Let’s look at its effects on stress, sleep, depression and anxiety…



1. It releases feel-good hormones

You’ve probably heard of serotonin. It’s known as ‘the feel-good hormone’ because it helps to boost your mood and increase your sense of wellbeing. There are a host of ways you can trigger it – with sunlight, a massage or by eating tryptophan-rich foods – but exercise is one of the most commonly used because it’s so quick and easy. Try a workout that gets your heart rate up (like a boxing session with one of our trainers) to boost the flow of serotonin and experience those mood-elevating effects.


2. It enables better sleep

It makes sense that pushing your body to its limits is going to make you feel more tired. But, did you know? There are studies to back up your workout’s sleep-boosting benefits, too. It’s not just a case of wearing yourself out; according to the Sleep Foundation, the relaxing effects come down to how exercise impacts your body’s core temperature.


When you exercise, your ‘internal thermostat’ dials up a few degrees, but later in the day it drops, which triggers feelings of drowsiness. Experts recommend working out in the morning or the afternoon to see these effects, as the evening might not allow enough time for your temperature to readjust. As for how this improves your mental health, we all feel better after a good night’s sleep. While it might not eliminate your worries, a little extra rest can help you start your day on a more positive note.


3. It reduces depression

Researchers at the University College London found increasing physical activity from nothing to three workouts per week reduced depression by 20%. In fact, the NHS prescribes physical activity as a form of therapy, while the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends regular exercise for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.


4. It helps you manage stress

When you’re pumping iron or hitting a heavy bag, you’re directing your mental energy away from a rush of busy thoughts, helping to distract your mind from your day-to-day worries. But that’s not the only way exercise dials down stress. The Stress Management Society says that it also fulfils your body’s reflexive response to stressors.


Think of how you feel when you’re stressed. Does your heart rate quicken? This is because your adrenal glands are producing epinephrine, also known as ‘adrenaline’. At this point, your body is in a heightened state to react, and it expects some kind of physical activity as a form of release. That’s where exercise comes in. It’s a great way of utilising all that extra adrenaline you’ve built up. Just make sure the intensity is high, your focus is sharp and your movements are consistent.


5. It encourages teamwork

This is especially true with a personal trainer. One of the best things about working out is having a teammate to spur you on; someone who pushes you hard and celebrates your wins. The social ties you form can also inspire self-confidence, reducing any feelings you might have of isolation or loneliness.


Fitness tips for better mental health

  • Try one-on-one training: If being in a busy gym makes you feel anxious, opt for one-to-one personal training. Having a ‘teammate’ in a private studio feels far less daunting, allowing you to focus on your fitness instead of those around you.


  • Track your goals with weight training: There are many reasons we work out, and a sense of achievement is high on the list. Weight training is our go-to for that ‘crushed it’ feeling because there are so many easily measurable goals to set, like working with heavier weights or increasing reps.


  • Talk to your trainer: Tell your Artisan PT trainer about what you hope to achieve from exercise, and we’ll find a routine that speaks to your mood, with a focus on feel-good, empowering workouts. We’ll also be able to recommend foods that benefit your mental health, so you can take a holistic approach to gaining a calmer mindset.

Looking for more exercise advice? Discover the benefits of weight training vs. cardio.

Here’s why protein is essential for exercise

Ever wondered why your trainer tells you to add plenty of protein to your diet? Discover how it upgrades your fitness regimen with Artisan PT’s complete protein guide....

What is protein?

Protein has a reputation for increasing muscle mass – and it does it well – but this macronutrient plays a far bigger role in maintaining your health. It also provides the amino acids required to build new cells, and proteins are often referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of your body. Put simply, they’re essential for survival..

What will protein do for my muscles?

First up, let’s talk #gains. Despite popular belief, protein doesn’t equal instant muscles, and it isn’t going to cause you to bulk up – that comes down to your go-to workout. The role of protein is to support, repair and strengthen your muscles, whether you’re doing exercises designed to build up mass, or focusing on moves that make you feel leaner and longer.

The trick is to talk to your Artisan PT trainer about the kind of tone you’re going for, and they’ll tailor your fitness routine to help you smash your goals. Then, the protein – rich in essential amino acids – will allow your muscles to rebuild and recover, so you’re fighting (extra) fit for the next sweat session.

What are the other benefits of protein?

As well as recharging muscles post-workout, protein makes you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not constantly craving snacks or feeling hungry minutes after lunch. It also boosts your metabolism – perfect if weight loss is one of your fitness goals – so you burn up calories quicker, whether you’re doing a workout or just going for a walk. Plus, because of its muscle-strengthening properties, it’s going to keep your body in its best working order as you get older. It’s the easiest way to future-proof your fitness levels.

When should I have protein?

We recommend adding protein to every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – as well as a little before and after each training session. This is because it activates a process called Muscle Protein Synthesis, which builds and repairs your muscles, benefitting every exercise. In order to optimise this process, your body needs protein every three to four hours. So, keep it regular to reap the rewards of a protein-rich diet.

What are the other benefits of protein?

As well as recharging muscles post-workout, protein makes you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not constantly craving snacks or feeling hungry minutes after lunch. It also boosts your metabolism – perfect if weight loss is one of your fitness goals – so you burn up calories quicker, whether you’re doing a workout or just going for a walk. Plus, because of its muscle-strengthening properties, it’s going to keep your body in its best working order as you get older. It’s the easiest way to future-proof your fitness levels.

What foods are high in protein?

There are so many foods high in protein, including red meat, poultry and dairy. That means eggs, chicken, beef, pork, milk and cheese are all on the menu for your healthy food plan. Fish, nuts, seeds and beans are also great sources of protein. Just speak to your Artisan PT trainer for more tips, and they’ll hook you up with some insane recipes.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, we’ve got you covered, too. Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, as well as plant- based protein powders make it easy to fuel your fitness with healthy, muscle-powering foods.

Again, speak to your Artisan PT trainer about the highest-quality vegan protein options, and they’ll map out a bespoke food plan that’s both nutritious and delicious.


How much protein do I need?

It’s the big question with no single answer. Your recommended protein intake comes down to your current body weight, how active you are and how much muscle mass you want to build up. A quick Google will give you endless tips on how to figure out the amount you ‘need’, but a) they’re confusing, b) they’re completely impersonal and c) they rarely cover every factor.

However, at The Artisan PT, we’ll recommend a level of protein that’s right for you, and show you simple ways to hit your target with recipes that slot into your lifestyle. Want in? Sign up for your first consultation at our Wolverhampton studio, and find your ideal food and fitness regimen. Let’s do this.

Looking for more tips on healthy living? Discover the benefits of weight lifting vs. cardio, plus advice on how to use exercise to increase your mental health.

The real benefits of weight training vs. cardio


Cardio, cardio, cardio. When it comes to weight loss, you’ll hear about this heart-pumping exercise over and over again, as if it’s the only route to blitzing fat. But what about weight training? Here, we break down why working the weights section is your go-to for more consistent calorie-torching. Get the full lowdown…


The benefits of cardio

1. It burns calories fast

If you want to blast through those calories with a burst of exercise, high-powered cardio is your quick fix; a short-term strategy for weight loss. The faster you move, the higher your heart rate climbs and the more calories you torch, meaning a run or a speedy cycle can be particularly effective. But, for a serious burn, we recommend a cardio boxing workout. One session can shred up to 1,000 calories, making it one of the highest impact exercises you can do.

2. It boosts your mood

All exercise benefits your mental health, and cardio is no different. There’s something freeing about slotting in some morning sprints or smashing your PB at the pool. It’s easy to lose yourself in your workout when you’re picking up the pace. Plus, according to an issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, it’s believed to reduce both anxiety and depression by increasing blood flow to your brain. Now, if that isn’t a reason to reach for your boxing gloves, we don’t know what is.

3. You can do it (almost) anywhere

Running, walking, jogging, cycling… you can do them anytime, anywhere, making cardio a pretty easy way of keeping active daily. Perfect for fitting in around your training sessions, we’re big fans of a quick, late-night 5k. But, if you want to take advantage of a full-body toning box, you might need to hit the studio.

The benefits of weight training

1. It burns more calories for longer

If you compare a weight training session with a cardio class of the same duration, it’s likely you’re going to see a higher calorie blitz from that killer cardio. However – and this is important to note – weight training continues to burn more calories post-workout, even while your body is at rest. This is because the muscle you build can help increase your resting metabolism, so those calorie-burning benefits keep going for hours (or even days!) after you exercise.

2. It also enhances mental health

Our number one fitness goal is better mental health – always has been – and, like cardio, weight training is said to positively elevate your mood. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, numerous studies indicate that strength training can lower anxiety while lifting up your self-esteem. Plus, there are few things better for keeping your mind busy than hitting the free weights. And the sense of achievement from pressing 75% of your body weight? There’s nothing like it.

3. It makes you stronger and more toned

For serious sculpting, weight training is the ultimate workout. You get the perfect combination of calorie-crushing and full-body toning in a single session. But, best of all, it increases your strength and makes you feel unstoppable, releasing a rush of endorphins every time you hit another goal. Who doesn’t want to up their strength?

Weight training vs. cardio: what’s the verdict?

When it comes to weight training vs. cardio, you don’t have to pick one over the other. Having a mix of both lets you reap all the mind-calming, body-boosting benefits you see above.

However, we do recommend a weight training-first approach for two reasons: a) it helps you burn more calories for longer and b) the muscles you build will make your cardio work harder. So, get booking your first The Artisan PT consultation, and we’ll find a weight training routine that works for you – plus a few boxing sessions to help you cover off your cardio.


Looking for more health and fitness tips? Discover the benefits of protein, including the many ways it helps to enhance your exercise.