How does physical activity help our mental health?

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This year, Mid and North East Essex Mind is thrilled to be the charity of choice for the Colchester Stampede 10k.

We know taking on a challenge like this can be daunting, so we’ve pulled together some information in this blog all about the benefits of physical activity and it’s positive impact on mental health.

We hope you find it useful, whether you’ll be training for a 10k run this year or simply going for a 10 minute brisk walk!

How does physical activity help our mental health?

National Mind has identified six key ways that physical activity makes a difference…

  • Improve mood: exercise can release endorphins (sometimes called ‘feel-good’ hormones) that can lift mood and give us more energy.
  • Lower the risk of depression: studies show that regular physical activity can reduce the chances of experiencing a period of depression by up to 30%.
  • Improve sleep: taking part in physical activity can relieve tension leading to a restful night and improved sleep.
  • Manage stress, anxiety and/or intrusive thoughts: physical activity releases cortisol, a hormone which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can help us feel better in difficult times.
  • Increase self-esteem: exercising or learning new skills can help us to feel better about ourselves and improve our mood.
  • Improve social connections: taking part in physical activity allows opportunities to connect with others.

 

Getting started with physical activity

It may feel difficult to be physically active, especially if you are feeling unwell. Here’s Mind’s top tips for getting started…

  • Start off slowly. It may take a while to build up your fitness. Doing too much at first will make you feel tired and may put you off.
  • Plan a realistic and achievable routine. Try to find ways to be active that fit into your day-to-day life around your commitments, or build activity into your daily life. Trying to move a bit more every day can really help.
  • Be kind to yourself. Sometimes you can’t be as active as you would like, and your energy levels will vary on different days. It’s fine to slow down or take a break.
  • Try to identify your triggers and work around them. For example, if you find leaving the house difficult or don’t like to exercise in front of other people, you could try doing some exercise at home.
  • Keep trying. It may take a while to find an activity you like. As well as trying different activities, you may find that you prefer a particular class, instructor or group.

For more top tips, useful resources and ways to find activities near you, visit the national Mind website.

 

Content in this blog is published in full on the national Mind website. © Mind. This information is published in full at mind.org.uk