Exercise can be an amazing tool to improve and maintain mental wellness. Regular physical activity can boost mood, strengthen our concentration and alertness, and improve sleep quality, all of which make us feel happier and healthier! Many of our clients tell us the first thing their GP asks when they are feeling low in mood or anxious is whether they are physically active. There’s a reason they ask this – exercise (or lack there of), plays a vital role in your mental wellness.
How does exercise make me feel better?
Exercise has a positive effect on our mind in several ways:
- Physical activity causes the release of endorphins (hormones associates with feeling good) and serotonin (natural chemicals associated with feeling good)
- Exercise gets our blood pumping, which makes our brain work better so that we think more clearly
- Physical activity enlarges the part of our brain that is responsible for memory, and strengthens the connections between our nerves, which keeps our brain functioning well
- Exercising outdoors and getting some fresh air helps us feel calm and connected to nature
- Group exercise or social sport combats social isolation and strengthens our social connections
How much do I need to exercise?
The recommended amount of exercise for an adult is 30 minutes a day. However, you don’t have to do this all at once and it doesn’t all have to be high intensity! If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to 30 minutes of physical activity, try breaking it down into smaller chunks – try a 10 minute walk in your lunch break – and go from there!
While moderate physical activity can have positive impacts on both physical and mental wellness, excessive or compulsive exercise may be triggering or harmful for some people, particularly those with restrictive dietary behaviours. If you think you might be exercising too much, or your exercise regime causes you anxiety or distress, talk to your GP or a Psychologist.