This week is mental health awareness week so today I want to talk to you about how physical activity can help your mental health.
We all know the impacts of physical activity on our body – including weight loss, a healthy heart and maybe even some rippling muscles. But did you know the positive effect it can have on your mental health and wellbeing too?
Despite the perception that mind and body are separate, what you do with your body can have a huge influence on your mental state.
According to scientists, physical activity helps maintain and improve wellbeing in a number of ways, including:
Better sleep – by making you feel more tired and calmer at the end of the day and helping you feel refreshed and ready to face the day when you wake up.
Happier moods – Physical activity releases feel good endorphins that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
Managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts – doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times.
Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.
Some scientists think being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control, and the ability to rise to a challenge.
Being outdoors is a prime time for boosting your activity levels, and research suggests that doing physical activity in an outdoor, ‘green’ environment has greater positive effects on wellbeing compared to physical activity indoors. It also helps you develop resilience.
Exercise decreases depression in older adults, reduces the symptoms of post natal depression and is as effective as medicine for mild to moderation depression and anxiety.
Working out in a group setting is also beneficial to mental health as it promotes teamwork and self confidence.
If you feel sluggish, stuck in a rut or simply want to feel better in yourself I urge you to get moving for mental health.
This doesn’t mean you have to do an intensive workout each day, but rather to aim to have regular consistent movement in your life whether that is a walk, online workout, run or even a dance.
This week, try to get moving each day and see how you feel by the end of the week. I am positive you will instantly see a change in your mental health with the physical benefits soon showing too!