BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Regular exercise is often associated with its benefits for your physical health and appearance, but what is often overlooked are the huge benefits that regular exercise can play in our mental health. This comprehensive guide unpacks how exercise can be a big boost for your mental health and wellbeing.
WHAT COUNTS AS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY?
Most likely you will know that the recommended guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer is to achieve 5 x 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. So that is 150 minutes. It might sound like a lot when we all have busy lives, but actually it is much easier to achieve than you think as it can include activities such as walking the dog and climbing the stairs as well as going to the gym or having a swim.
THE IMPACT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
There are a number of factors that regular exercise has been proven to affect, broadly these are:
Mood Enhancement: Research has shown that physical activity significantly elevates your mood. People report feeling more content and awake after physical activity than periods of inactivity.
Stress Relief: Exercise induces a stress response that is more regulated than the ‘fight or flight’ reaction, helping us handle stress better. People who are active typically report lower stress levels compared to their less active counterparts. Regular exercise can reduce stress by up to 30%.
Boost in Self-esteem: Exercise has been found to positively impact self-esteem across all age groups and genders. In helps you to feel good about yourself from an achievement perspective, but also feeling body confident.
Cognitive Benefits: For older adults, physical activity has been shown to decrease the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. There’s a 20-30% lower risk of depression and dementia for those participating in daily physical activity.
Depression and Anxiety: Exercise can act as an alternative or supplementary treatment for depression and anxiety. I in 6 of us will experience depression or anxiety each year, so every little helps in reducing the incidences and effects of this.
MAKING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MORE ACCESSIBLE
Overcoming barriers to exercise can be challenging. Motivation, cost, and time constraints are some common obstacles. However, social support and practical planning can go a long way in helping you integrate physical activity into your daily life. Remember, you don’t have to make monumental changes overnight. Even minor adjustments like taking the stairs or walking a bit more can add up.