Exercise and its effect on mental health

 
 
 

People often see exercise as something that we ‘have to do’ or even something that we ‘should do’ in order to improve our physical health. People regularly disregard the impact exercise can have on our mental well-being. It’s so often considered a chore that we end up laying it off until tomorrow. Whereas, if we understood the effects regular, small amounts of exercise has on the mind, perhaps we’d reconsider skipping it today. We ensure throughout the day that we eat food and drink water, if we included a small space for some light exercise as an essential we can open up new opportunities and perhaps even tackle our problems in a different way. 

The last thing we’re suggesting is to dive in the deep end, training hours every day, we’re not preparing for the next Olympics. We’re just open to welcoming an idea where we allocate fifteen minutes a day for some physical activity. Physical activity can be anything, but something likely to get our hearts racing and our blood pumping. This could simply be skipping the bus to town and walking (or cycling), It could be completing the household chores in a timelier manner. For most people it’s really easy to link it with every-day activities by altering or speeding it up a little bit. 

When problems arise in people’s lives, stress is arguably the most common response. This triggers more intense emotions which affect how someone behaves. It could, for example, affect sleep, or appetite - exercise can counteract these responses. Physical exercise has been proven to relieve symptoms of stress. Many claim to use exercise as their own form of mental health treatment, alongside other medication, if prescribed. Yet despite this only just over half of men and women in the UK are meeting the recommended levels of activity a week. The recommended amount (according to The Department of Health) is to be active daily and completing two and a half hours of moderate activity a week. 

 
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There are so many options when it comes to exercise that there is almost anything to suit you. You can choose to be indoors or outdoors, with people or alone, you can fit it into your daily lifestyle or specifically set time aside. 

Making the initial step can be daunting, especially if it’s been avoided for a while. It may be that it’s been avoided due to depression, an injury, health limitations or lack of support, but whatever the reason there’s a way to get back into it. If it’s body confidence hindering you from participating maybe start with one to one sessions or walking around a lake instead of large group classes. Really have a think about what is going to be most suitable for you, you want it to be an achievable goal, with some level of challenge. However, it’s important to start gradually and build yourself up, set yourself small tasks to improve and keep a record of your progress!