Looking after your mental health, regardless of age, is incredibly important, but it isn’t always clear how best to do that. While everyone is different – and many people have their own different ways to ensure they stay healthy – one thing that is good for the mental health of all is exercise! Aerobic exercise in particular has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, and can be a great preventative. So what can exercise do for you?
1. All forms of exercise are a natural mood-booster, due to the release of endorphins. As well as incorporating exercise into your weekly routine (3-4 times a week, for at least 30 minutes, is recommended by the government), try doing some exercise when you’re upset, frustrated or just generally low – it can change your mood completely and be a great stress relief!
2. The combination of clearing your mind and tiring your body through physical activity can have the most fantastic impact on your sleep pattern – and, in turn, your mental health. Exercise can reduce daytime tiredness (something quite common for those with severe depression or anxiety), while facilitating better quality sleep and an improved body-clock if done regularly.
3. Exercise can be a great outlet to achieve things outside of your physical health that you may feel you need in order to support your overall wellbeing – whether you need a distraction from all that overthinking, an enjoyable activity to look forward to every week, or a facilitator for social interaction or making new friends.
4. Physical activity helps your overall physical and mental health, from weight management to reduced cholesterol, to general improvement to health – which can only be a good thing! Combined with a balanced diet can make for some great changes to your mind and body, setting you on the right path.
5. Your fitness, endurance and stamina levels will increase the more regularly you keep up with an exercise routine. Regardless of the type of exercise – from cardio classes to strength training to team sports – you are sure to feel stronger, more energetic, and more confident over time, giving you a much needed mental boost.
6. For girls, sometimes there is nothing worse than the bloating, tiredness and pain that comes with a monthly period – it’s enough to lower your mood and worsen existing mental health issues. The good news is that exercise can also help to alleviate period symptoms – both physical and mental! It doesn’t have to be intense or strenuous exercise, but even just a gentle walk or swim can do wonders!
So what are you waiting for!? Get up and get moving! Just remember not to over-exert yourself or push your body to extremes – the point is consistency, not intensity – and ensure that you rest your muscles between workout sessions and stop if you feel like it is too much. Exercise should be enjoyable, not painful!