Exercise has many well-known benefits for physical health, such as improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, and strengthening muscles and bones. But did you know getting active is one of the best things you can do to protect and improve your mental health?
The weather may be frosty, and the nights may begin too early, but it is still possible for you to improve your health by incorporating more movement into your life. Read on to learn more about the benefits of exercise on wellbeing; easy tips to become more active; and how to be a part of Dorset Mind’s exciting ‘Move Your Mind’ campaign!
The benefits of exercise on mental wellbeing
The New Economics Foundation conducted research into ways that people can improve their wellbeing. This resulted in five clear steps: learning, noticing, connecting, giving, and getting active. It is no surprise that exercise was one of these five key methods, as it has been found to positively impact mental health in many ways. They include:
- Improving sleep – Being active can help regulate our sleep, which is vital for a healthy mind. Getting active can help us manage anxiety, wear out our bodies physically, and improve our physical health.
- Increasing self-esteem – Exercise can enable us to set and reach goals, which is wonderful for our sense of personal achievement. Getting into exercise can be challenging initially, but with a little perseverance, we can improve and feel better. This is a great lesson in resilience that we can apply to other areas of our lives.
- Improving your mood – Physical activity releases cortisol, which helps manage stress and anxiety. It also releases endorphins that make us feel better and more energised. Additionally, if you have a lot going on, exercise can be a great distraction to help give your mind a well-needed rest.
Our top tips for getting active
We all know it can be hard to start exercising especially with the new restrictions, and even harder to maintain the habit once we’ve begun.
Here are our top tips for increasing your activity:
- Don’t over do it – If you’re feeling very motivated in the beginning of your exercise journey, it may be tempting to set difficult goals, such as multiple gym sessions every week. However, you are more likely to burn out if you set your goals too high. A more effective plan is likely to include short daily bursts of an enjoyable activity.
- Work smarter, not harder – You know yourself better than anyone. Are you more tired in the mornings or evenings? Do you prefer one activity over the other?
Make a plan that enables you to fit activity into your routine at a time that suits you and your energy levels. Some people may prefer an early morning walk rather than an evening Zumba class, but everyone is different. Take some time to find out what works for you. You’re more likely to stick at it if you enjoy the activity.
- Join a challenge – like ‘Move Your Mind!’
Although we’re 4 days into January, it’s never too late to start a new healthy habit of getting active. Joining a challenge or campaign can help provide a sense of community and external motivation. ‘Move Your Mind’ is a campaign from Dorset Mind that encourages people to get active for just 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of January, in any way that suits them. Signing up is FREE, but an easy fundraising goal of £31 is recommended – that’s just £1 a day!
Get involved here – it’s not too late to conquer those January blues, and raise money to help support the mental health of local people in Dorset!
Thanks to our guest blogger
Big thanks to our ambassador Lucy Lewis, who wrote this guest blog.