There’s no Health without Mental Health
And for optimal mental health, it’s important that we keep in shape and live an active lifestyle.
Exercise is used as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. However, exercise is also useful preventative tool and can really benefit our mental wellbeing.
We all go through times when we feel great and similarly all have periods when we feel low or stuck in some way. There are difficult life events we have to get through at some point, such as bereavement or unemployment or just times when we want to take control but can’t or just need a bit of space in our work or in our personal lives. We get through these and other challenges in life better when we are feeling good within ourselves and when we are in good mental health. And whilst it’s a physical activity, exercise can help us achieve that.
Physical activity affects how we feel and think in three main ways:
During exercise the brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. This better brain chemistry improves our mood and our ability to deal with stress.
We get a psychological boost from learning new skills and achieving goals. Perhaps start by jogging a couple of times a week, building up to a 10km fun run after a few months. Exercise gives us a break from stressful live events and the rest of our lives; we all need a space to clear our minds. Self-esteem can also be boosted when we see improvements in the physical condition of our bodies.
There is also a social element to exercise whether it is getting involved in team sports, joining a club, having a gym buddy or regular meeting with others as you walk your dog. It’s recognised that having a wide social circle is important for your mental health.
Some of the benefits of regular exercise include:
- Less tension
- Less stress
- Less mental fatigue
- A natural energy boost
- Improved sleep
Make Exercise work for you & reap the benefits
It’s important to ask yourself what you want to get out of exercise. Do you want to take part in team sport? Or exercise alone? Do you want to get into your trainers and tracksuit, don the Speedos or are you just looking to make general changes for a more active lifestyle? There are plenty of non-sporty ways to keep fit too – such as leaving the car at home for short journeys, walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator, getting off the bus or train a stop early or even going out dancing!! Whatever you choose, the main thing is to go for something you enjoy and that will be practical for you to maintain.