Moving for our mental health

“Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) embraces the theme of ‘Moving for our mental health,’ as assigned by the Mental Health Foundation. While it’s widely acknowledged that movement and exercise are vital for mental well-being, it is important to reinforce these notions and set aside the necessary time to prioritise them.

Regular exercise offers a whole host of benefits, not least among them being to boost energy levels, mental health and physical strength. This positive transformation often translates into heightened confidence and self-esteem. Exercise induces the release of endorphins, better known as ‘feel-good’ hormones, which interact with brain receptors to create a sense of euphoria likened to morphine. This is often why many people become addicted to exercise! Beyond endorphins, exercise plays a vital role in regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are essential for mood regulation. By maintaining a healthy balance of these chemicals, physical activity aids in stress reduction, reduces tension, and helps with relaxation.

Choosing to exercise early in the morning before work, school or college can help clear and focus your mind for the day ahead, setting you up to win! Plus, in the long-term, exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of cognitive decline. It can enhance memory, attention, and overall brain health. Exercise can also help you achieve a better night’s sleep which is essential for our wellbeing, as it can once again enhance cognitive function and in addition aid with concentration and enhance our mood.

Experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week, this can include activities ranging from brisk walks and swimming to yoga, strength training, or team sports. It’s worth noting that team sports and group fitness activities provide not only physical benefits, but also opportunities for social interaction, an important aspect of mental health and well-being.

Engagement in physical activity can also serve as a positive diversion from negative thoughts and emotions, offering an effective coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, and depression. Integrating movement and exercise into your weekly routine can result in numerous benefits for our mental health, including an improved mood, reduced stress, enhanced sleep, and overall well-being. So, why wait? Start moving today!”

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