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How Exercise Helps Your Mental Health: Q&A with Nick Mitchell and Cath Tyldesley

When times are tough, our mental health can suffer. 

But there are plenty of things we can do to support good mental wellbeing. Exercise is one of them.  

Ultimate Performance founder Nick Mitchell talks about the benefits of a good workout and how physical health can never be divorced for mental health. 

Here’s what Nick said in an illuminating Q&A with actress, mother and U.P. client Cath Tyldesley: 

Nick: Short, sharp exercise lifts people out of depression.

Cath: The other thing that I wanted to chat to you about, which is something that I’m hugely passionate about and has been such an issue over this past year is mental health. And often people don’t make the correlation between physical health and mental health. So is there any tips and advice that you can give us on that, just explain to people the science behind it, if you will, in terms of training and how it helps us with our mental health.

Nick: Well, first of all, obviously I’m not a shrink nor I’m a doctor, I’m merely a trainer, but I don’t think we can divorce mental health and physical health. Gut health is massive. Gut is considered to be like your third brain. So gut health is massively important.

Everyone at home, if you don’t understand what I mean by mental health being intrinsically linked with physical health, sit and slouch. See how you feel and then stand up, stick your chest out and breathe. And you feel different with the way that you carry your body. If you’ve got zest. If you’ve got a spring in your step. All of a sudden, you feel like you’ve lost 10 kilos. You feel a lot lighter, going up the stairs is a hell of a lot easier.

All of a sudden, everything mentally starts to click better for you just because you can’t separate the two. You just can’t separate the two. Now, of course, the other thing that you are alluding to is that exercise is vitally important when it comes to people staving off depression. There are lots of studies now that will show you that the right exercise program – and it’s not a case of any kind of exercise, the right kind of exercise. The right kind of exercise, which is more about short, sharp exercise.

It doesn’t mean running a marathon. That typically might be counterproductive. Short, sharp exercise lifts people out of depression. I’m not saying it cures depression, anything like that. I’m not overstepping my scope, but it lifts people out of their depression. During COVID, I was living in Los Angeles at the time, which was honestly not bad. It was nicer to live in Los Angeles by the beach, right?

But I was still… honestly, I felt at times I was about to do some kind of Michael Douglas falling down moment. If I hadn’t had my garage gym. I could go in there for an hour a day and just go crazy and just let it all out. Let the demons out. Let the anger out. The reason why I love the gym or the reason why I love exercise for everybody is that, exercise done correctly should leave you unfettered when you’re doing it.

So, if you go into the gym, a lot of people are worried about people watching. They’re thinking ‘someone is going to look at me.’ Honestly, pardon my language, but f**k that. What you should be doing is, if you want to make a noise, make a noise. If you want to go crazy, go crazy. It’s for you. It’s for you. It’s your release. And again, it doesn’t have to be weight training, right? But it should be something that gets the endorphins going.

I mean, to be totally truthful with you. I love exercising outdoors. I love exercising outdoors. If you can see these behind me, these hills, I’ll take my bike and I’ll go on these fire trails behind me. It’s an e-bike, right? So, it’s not quite the same. But I just go hell for leather. I go hell for leather. And I just feel fantastic after doing it, and it just takes away my worries.

Cath: I’m exactly the same.

Nick: We should all exercise. We’ve got one body. I mean, it’s very, very true, it’s very, very true. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Nick and Cath share their secret on how they found the motivation to pursue their fitness goals. Click here for more on the Nick and Cath series. 

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