Movement and exercise have long been recognised as beneficial to our physical health, reducing the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and improving the quality of our sleep. Physical activity is also key to tackling obesity – helping us lose weight, tone, strengthen and develop a healthy physique.
Movement and exercise can also bring many positive mental health benefits which improve our overall well-being e.g:
- Lifts our mood
- Improves memory
- Reduces stress and anxiety – release of cortisol
- Helps us think/problem solve and come up with new ideas
- Encourages personal challenge and goal setting
- Increases experiences of hope and develops confidence
Group activities can provide additional benefits such as opportunities to connect with others & meet like-minded people – e.g. walking group, sports team, dance class. In the current situation of social distancing, there’s creative ways to connect with others e.g. via online exercise classes, holding a silent disco on video with friends, exercising outdoors with members of your household…
“When it comes to health and well-being, regular exercise is about as close to a magic potion as you can get.”Thich Nhat Hanh: Buddhist Monk, Peace Activist, Author
Of course – our needs, interests and capabilities are all different – being physically active doesn’t have to mean intense exercise like training for a marathon or committing to swim the English Channel. For a lot of us, joining a group exercise class, committing to a regular work-out app, doing some gardening or simply walking more often would be a realistic and sustainable option.
Whatever level you feel you’re personally at, we can all aim to sit down less, move more and build opportunities for increased physical activity/movement in our days.
It’s important to remember that benefits can be found in all levels of movement/activity, whether we’re getting up more off the sofa and moving around, walking to work or on a challenging hike… so build up gradually and set small attainable personal goals, remembering to recognise and celebrate your progress along the way.
Physical activity and movement offer the opportunity to improve our overall well-being, both physically and mentally.
How do you feel when you’re physically active? What do you currently do to get yourself up and moving and how might you build more of these opportunities into your week?