Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from the 10th to 16th May. People everywhere are being reminded to take time out to care for their mental wellbeing. After the challenges that everyone has faced during the pandemic, it has never been more important to take care of your mental health and one of the best ways to do this is through getting active.
You might be surprised to hear that exercise is one of the best ways to beat the blues. There’s no wonder there was a drastic increase in the amount of weekly exercise people were doing throughout the national lockdowns. Getting out in the fresh air and back to nature, whether that’s for a walk, jog or a bike ride, is a proven way to lift your mood, ease anxiety as well as improving your memory and quality of sleep.
Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits, even a modest amount of exercise can make a big difference, regardless of your age or fitness level.
What are the benefits?
Apart from all the well-known physical health benefits of exercise another big motivator for people is the sense of well-being you get from simply being active. These include feeling more energetic throughout the day, having better self-esteem, feeling more relaxed and sleeping better at night. The feel good factor is thanks to chemicals called ‘endorphins’ which are released during and after exercise, these trigger a positive feeling in your body.
Exercise is even thought to be as effective at treating depression as medication. This is because exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Exercise is also thought to act as a great distraction, allowing you some time out of your busy lifestyle and an opportunity to refocus.
What type of exercise is best?
The good news is that when it comes to improving your mental health, any physical activity is better than nothing. Aiming for regular moderate activity could maximise the benefits though. You should aim to raise your heart beat and feel slightly out of breath, without feeling uncomfortable. You can reap all the physical and mental health benefits of exercise from just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. If that doesn’t sound doable, two 15 minute or even three 10 minute exercise sessions can also work just as well. Here are some suggested activities for you to try:
- Group exercise classes
So now you know that exercise can be a real mood-booster without having to spend hours pounding away on a treadmill, what is stopping you? There is a form of exercise out there to suit everyone. If you’re new to exercise our friendly 1Life PTs will be happy to put an exercise programme together for you for the gym. Alternatively, 1Life offer an extensive timetable of group exercise classes to try. Exercising with others can be a great motivator as well as an opportunity to make new friends along the way.
Whichever form of exercise you choose, remember to have fun while getting fit!
For further information on your local 1Life centre, visit www.1life.co.uk