With Mental Health Awareness Week (8th to 14th May) approaching it’s an ideal time to take stock of your overall wellbeing. Ensuring sound mental health is a hugely important part of this and yet, all too often, we overlook the niggles of stress and the burden of a low mood, putting it down simply to ‘a busy life’.
The government defines wellbeing as ‘a positive physical, social and mental state’. By and large we have all accepted that exercise is important for our physical health but did you know that the same fitness classes, a game of fives with your mates, walks in the fresh air and 20 minute bursts on the cardio equipment could bring proven benefits to your mental wellbeing?
The sense of feeling good about ourselves, being able to cope with challenges, making the most of opportunities, having a sense of control and freedom over our lives and feeling connected to our community and surroundings are all things that everyone deserves to enjoy – and these are benefits that come with positive mental wellbeing.
Regular exercise – current recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week - helps mental health in a number of ways. When you exercise your brain releases more of the feel-good brain chemicals, called endorphins. Endorphins have been proven to ease depression and stress as well as helping you to sleep better, feel more energised and, if you choose to exercise as part of a group, feel more connected to people around you. And all of this together will help keep your self-esteem raised – something we could all use every now and again!
Keep yourself energised, rested and full of life by finding a class or activity that you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be high-impact, you don’t need to run marathons (although if you want to do that, you should!). Book in to a regular class, join in with a local walk or get your friends together for a game of badminton, football or a jog round the park. You’ll be glad you did!
Exercise As An Aid To Improve Mental Illness:
Physical activity is now being used more and more in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Extensive studies have shown that the previously mentioned release of endorphins - and all that comes with that – brings significant improvements to people living with mental illness, with none of the side effects of traditional medication. More recently, exercise has been introduced to help with cognitive decline in older people. Studies show that there is approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity.
Take The Next Step: Speak to your Doctor, Practice Nurse, counsellor or psychologist and ask about the Live Active Leisure Activity Referral Scheme where you will enjoy a guided, 12 week programme. Call 01738 454660 for further details.