"There is a 20 - 30% lower risk of depression and general feelings of distress for adults participating in daily physical activity." (Start Active, Stay Actve)
Mental health and wellbeing has never been as important as it is now. As we are hopefully coming to an end of an unprecedented global pandemic, now is a great time to start taking care of our physical and mental health. The restrictions are starting to lift, gyms are reopening, indoor and outdoor sports are resuming and social interaction is increasing which are all huge contributors to our physical and mental wellbeing.
The main benefit that physical exercise offers for our mental health is the release of endorphins. These "feel-good" chemicals are released into the body and have the ability relieve pain and stress in the mind. This is what gives us the feeling of enjoyment when playing sport, doing physical exercise and other hobbies.
Endorphins also trigger the release of chemicals like Serotonin, Adrenaline and Dopamine which all contribute to making us feel happier. Serotonin is especially important and is the chemical most commonly targeted by anti-depressant medication. It is a chemical we create in our own bodies and that we can increase production of by exercising regularly.
There are many other benefits to our mental health that exercise can offer:
- Better sleep
- Increased energy
- Weight loss and better physical health
- Improved self-esteem
- A purpose and sense of achievement
- Better memory
- Increased social contact.
The NHS recommends adults do some form of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you. The more you do the better.
- Do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
- Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
- Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity
Remember to stay hydrated when exercising and look after yourselves!