It has been proven that movement and exercise can help our mental health, read on to discover more.
We have talked in depth about some of the key factors which may help to support our wellbeing in recent articles and exercise is a key one of those pillars. Our physical and mental health are very closely linked and so physical activity can have a very positive impact on our mood and stress levels. Have you ever had a rush of euphoria after any kind of exercise? It's often referred to as the 'runner's high' but any kind of exercise releases natural mood boosting endorphins in the body that create that 'high' or sense of good overall wellbeing.
A recent study by Mind found that participants felt more content, awake and calmer after activity, vs those who had not taken any.
Our resident associate fitness expert, Andy Pike, shares his five tips to get those exercise goals on track as we approach the summer months:
1. Stop focusing on exercise as a way to lose weight. For many we have been conditioned to think about exercise as a way to manage our weight, which then in turn presents it’s own challenges. We encourage our clients to consider exercise as something to enjoy and look forward to, rather than something else to tick off your to do list. It does not matter what kind of exercise you do, you could choose a sport, run, take the dog for a walk, practice pilates or yoga. The key is to find something you enjoy and look forward to doing it regularly.
2. Routine can be a game changer. By taking exercise regularly, we can help to reduce the risk of premature mortality and many serious medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. As not only will regular exercise keep our bodies healthy, but our minds as well. Move more, sit less. This is a key one, especially as we all move to a more digital or hybrid way of working. Remembering to take a break or enjoying a 5-10 minute walk can make all the difference. For some in setting up their home office, they have also invested in a desk where you can change the height - something to consider.
3. You're never too old to begin. Introducing exercise at any point in your life is never too late. Naturally, the earlier you start, the better, but you can take exercise at any stage in life. If you are coming back to exercise for the first time in a while, do take your time with it – perhaps start by increasing your walking distance first, then working on strength so you don’t harm or damage any muscles.
4. Plan your exercise. Exercise has been proven beyond doubt to improve your energy levels and reduce your stress. By doing something little and often, outside if you can, will help you to manage any challenges you face. That said it is very easy to cut this out of your diary when things get busy, ensure you plan your exercise each week to ensure that you keep going.
5. Get enough sleep. Having disturbed sleep can sometimes accompany poor mental health, which makes everything seem so much more challenging. By doing some form of movement, even when you don’t feel like it will help you to get a better night's sleep, which in turn will help you take a fresh perspective about things and perhaps have more energy and motivation for exercise the following day.
In addition to the above benefits, a recent study at Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health has shown that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. So, in summary we see huge benefits in improving our mentally wellbeing by exercising regularly.
We are just putting the final touches to a number of new workshops, including one on mindful exercise. If you would like some help in planning your wellbeing workshops for the teams in your workplace during 2022/23 or interested to discover more, please get in touch to discuss your individual requirements.