According to the Mental Health Foundation, physical activity is good for your body but it’s great for your mind too.
Research has shown that exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good – boosting your self-esteem, helping you concentrate as well as sleep, look and feel better. Not bad for something we can quite easily do for free!
Being active doesn’t have to mean taking out an expensive gym membership, jogging at 5am or sporting lycra. There are so many ways to be active and they can all help to improve your mental health.
Taking part in physical activities can be a great way to meet people. They can also offer us the chance of taking a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Leading an active life can help to improve your feelings of self-worth and foster confidence. Taking part in a form of exercise that you really enjoy can give you a goal to aim for and a sense of purpose.
A few benefits of exercise are:
- less tension, stress and mental fatigue
- a natural energy boost
- improved sleep
- a sense of achievement
- focus in life and motivation
- less anger or frustration
- a healthy appetite
- better social life
- having fun.
Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. It may sound like a lot, but it isn’t as daunting as it first appears. ‘Moderate exercise’ means being energetic enough that you:
- breathe a little heavier than normal, but aren’t out of breath
- feel warmer, but don’t end up hot and sweaty
You don’t have to jump in at the deep end. Build up slowly, at a pace that suits you. You might like to do 30 minutes per day, or you may prefer two split your time into two 15 minute sessions – it’s entirely up to you!
How do I get started?
- Work out what time you have available
- Choose something that fits into your busy schedule
- Alternatively, re-jig commitments to make room for some physical activity
- Will you need support from friends and family?
- Will your active lifestyle have an impact on others in your life?
- Are there any costs involved, if so, what you can do to make it affordable?
Which activity works for you?
- Is there a particular part of your body you want to exercise?
- Do you need to be more physically active at home?
- Do you want a change of scene?
- Would you like a structured activity that someone else has organised
Tips on how to make exercise a part of daily life
Adopting a more active lifestyle can be as simple as listening to motivational music while doing the housework, or making small changes to your routine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Walk the children or grandchildren to school, then jog home
- Push the mower with extra vigour
- Get an exercise DVD – and use it!
- Speed up the housework – vac harder and faster till you’re warm
- Put on some music for a ten minute dance
- Apply some real elbow grease when cleaning the car
- When you do get a break, go for a swim
- Start walking to and from the train station – time it – then go faster
- Use the stairs for journeys less than four floors up
- Don’t pick up the phone, walk to see a colleague
- Take a brisk walk, do an exercise class or go for a swim during your lunch break
- Take a longer walk or cycle route home and discover new areas
- Stop at the gym on your way home
Out and about
- Leave the car at home for short journeys
- Get off the bus a stop earlier, or get on a stop later
- Park at the far end of the supermarket car park, or walk to the shops
- Join in with your children’s/grandchildren’s games – be part of the football team
- Jog and walk the dog – jog ten paces, then walk ten.
- Join an exercise class at your community centre and meet your neighbours.
Posted on the Mental Health Foundation website http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/