When hearing people discuss the positive impact that physical activity has upon mental health, many of us are likely to think about marathons and extreme gym workouts. While these pursuits do have their many health benefits, it would be wrong to consider that such endeavours are essential for improving our mental health. In fact, even relatively small amounts of exercise can have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing.
Leading an active life and enjoying periods of exercise works to improve our health. The benefits to our physical health are well-known, reducing our blood pressure and the likelihood of issues such as diabetes. Additionally, there are benefits upon our mental health too. The NHS recommends that each of us achieves at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, which can consist simply of walking or recreational activity. Even this amount works to improve our mental health, doing so in the following ways:
- Reducing stress When making ourselves physically active, our focus is distracted, alleviating anxiety, and cortisol is released, helping us to better manage stress
- Increasing happiness Exercise is proven to release endorphins, which improve our mood
- Encouraging better sleep Expending our energy during the day helps us to sleep more thoroughly and soundly at night
In addition to these core effects, physical activity, when sustained and incorporated into a healthy and balanced lifestyle, leads us to feel better about ourselves. This is because our self-esteem grows as we accomplish the goals that we set, even if they seem relatively minor. There are studies that demonstrate how exercise is useful when seeking to reduce the risk of depression. Exercise is also a great way to meet and socialise with others, which has an overall positive effect on our self-esteem and mood.
Unfortunately, men and women across the UK still fail to meet the recommended amount of physical activity. Achieving 150 minutes a week should not be seen as daunting and, instead, can be broken down into thirty-minute increments that can be achieved across five days of the week, which is a relatively small amount when compared with the significant mental benefits that it may accomplish.
These benefits, however, should not be seen as a permanent solution. Low moods may still occur and, especially in the event of trauma, we are stilled inclined to experience negative emotions. This will be the case no matter how much physical activity one achieves. It is when your negative moods persist, especially over a period of weeks, that you should consider seeking professional support or counselling.
If you have any concerns about your health or physical ability to perform regular exercise, then seek the advice of your GP. If you believe you are already achieving a healthy amount of physical activity but still find low moods and emotions persisting, or suspect you may be experiencing mental ill-health, then I am able to offer my therapy and counselling services in Bristol.
For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact me on 07751271709 or, alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.