Exercise & Mental Health

Physical activity is healthy for your body and mind.

Research shows exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. These enhance your self esteem, helping you concentrate and sleep better. Exercise also makes you look and feel better. Exercise is free!  Exercise does not mean an expensive gym membership etc. There are many ways to be active improving your mental health at the same time. Taking part in physical activities can be a great way to meet people. These activities also give us a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Leading an active life can help to improve your feelings of self worth and foster confidence and can give you a goal to aim for and a sense of purpose and identity.
A few benefits of exercise are:
  • less tension, stress and mental fatigue
  • Improved general strength to do tasks.
  • more energy.
  • improved sleep
  • a sense of achievement and self worth
  • focus in life and motivation
  • a healthy appetite
  • better social life
  • fun

How active do I need to be?

30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. ‘Moderate exercise’ means being energetic enough that you:
  • breathe a little heavier than normal, but aren’t out of breath
  • increase your heart beat
  • feel warmer, but don’t end up hot and sweaty
Build up slowly, at a pace that suits you. You might like to do 30 minutes per day, or you may prefer two split your time into two 15 minute sessions – choose what suits you.

Getting started

You will need time
  • Identify what time you have available and prioritise time where you can.
  • Choose something that fits into your busy schedule.
  • Organise commitments to make room for some physical activity
Be practical
  • Support from friends and family
  • Consider the impact on others in your life
  • Are there any costs involved, how can I make it affordable
 Which activity?
  • Is there a particular part of your body you want to exercise?
  • Why and where are you going to do the activity.
  • Local leisure centres often have special deals and a range of activity to appeal to all

Making exercise part of daily life

 At home
  • Walking rather than driving.
  • Get an exercise DVD.
  • Speed up the housework – vacuum harder and faster till you are warm
  • When you do get a break do some exercise.
 At work
  • Use the stairs.
  • Walk .
  • Take a longer walk or cycle route home
  • Stop at the gym on your way home
Out and about
  • Leave the car at home for short journeys
  • Get off the bus a stop earlier
  • Walk to the shops
  • Join an exercise class at your community centre or gym.

Questions about starting exercise

Trying something new may cause anxiety consider support from friends, family and professionals.
Explore the following:
Not succeeding
Start with a beginners class then move on to the advanced group.
Set realistic targets – start your new running schedule with a walk or jog, then increase gradually. Treadmills offer a range of settings to suit different requirements.
To expensive
Discounted rates at gyms and leisure centres are available in the Private and public sector, or choose an activity that is free.
Anxiety in public
Go with a friend. If you are uncomfortable using communal changing rooms, wear your kit too the gym and home and try a single sex gym or exercise class. These are often included in weekly timetables at leisure centres.
How do I get to a class?
Organise car sharing with people at activity class or try to walk or cycle. However you travel, always consider staying safe.
Your G.P. can help with exercise
Talk with your GP about how you feel before you get active. GPs can prescribe an exercise scheme where you are given free or discounted access to a range of leisure facilities for a period of time.
I don’t have the energy right now
Recognize the energy that exercise gives you and acknowledge rest days and times when you need a break.
What if I get sick or become injured?
Take advice from your GP if you need to. If an injury is going to be an on going problem, switch to a more suitable activity.

Keep a record of your goals and have fun!