The importance of good mental health and its treatment has become a major issue in society. More research and a number of celebrity sufferers brave enough to share their stories have dramatically reduced the stigma around mental health problems.
Though there is still a long way to go. Every year in the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem (Source: Mind UK). That’s 20% of people every year who will need some form of help to manage their symptoms.
When you’re stressed or depressed, it not only affects your brain but has a huge impact on your body too. The reverse is also true.
An increasing amount of research has shown links between physical activity and improvements in mental health. In certain circumstances, a GP or specialist can prescribe exercise on the NHS, with patients undertaking regular exercise classes or gym sessions.
Part Of A Holistic Approach To Treatment
While not claiming to be a cure-all for mental health issues, exercise can be an extremely important part of a well-rounded treatment. Good diet and exercise are key, along with any medications recommended by a doctor. Some people extol the benefits of CBD or B12 to lift the mood and reduce symptoms. A combination that works for one person, might not necessarily work for another.
The Effects Of Exercise
Regular, moderate exercise has been shown to:
- Manage stress. Focusing on exercise can help prevent a racing mind or intrusive thoughts. It also releases cortisol, which is good for managing stress levels.
- Improve sleep
- Improve mood and positive emotions
- Reduce fatigue
- Increase levels of concentration
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
In general, experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise for adults. However, if you’ve been sedentary for a long time, even short periods of activity will help. Build up gradually and set yourself small, achievable goals. For example, you might start off by walking 10 minutes every day, or 25 minutes 3 times per week.
The important thing is that you choose an activity you can stick to for the longer term. You don’t have to run a marathon to benefit from exercise.
Simple Ways To Move More
If formal exercise seems too daunting a prospect, there are many ways to start moving more in your everyday life, even if you don’t feel that you can.
- Walk outside and get some fresh air, even if it’s only for 5 minutes
- Try to walk short journeys rather than drive
- Get off the bus one stop earlier
- Cycle instead of drive
- Try daily stretching or yoga
Once you start moving more in your everyday life, building up confidence, then you can start the transition to more challenging activities. Soon you’ll be creating a virtuous circle, your mental health will benefit from exercise and in turn, your physical performance will benefit from a healthier mindset.
Other Activities To Benefit Both Your Mind & Body
All exercise is good, it gets you moving, your blood pumping and promotes feel-good endorphins that surge around your body, making you feel better inside and out.
The most important thing is to exercise as often as possible, ideally every day – whether that’s walking on your lunch break, cycling to work, or kicking a ball around the park with your friends on the weekend!
Here are a bunch of activities that are going to give you plenty of positive mental health benefits:
- Weight Training
- Fitness Classes
- Personal Training