Regular exercise has been proven to have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing, including anxiety, depression, stress and more.
When we exercise, we release endorphins, and its mood boosting effect can improve sleep, build confidence, and give us personal goals to work towards.
One study found that increasing activity levels from nothing to exercising at least three times a week, reduces the risk of depression by up to 30%.
With this in mind, here are 5 activities that could try to improve your mental health:
If you need motivation to get moving, the ‘runner’s high’ will do the trick. The exercise is free to do, and runners are often quick to profess the benefits of better sleep and stress-relief, both of which can go a long way towards improving your mental health.
But maybe you want to start smaller. Going for a walk, even as little as 15 minutes, can be enough to clear your head and help with issues like anxiety and depression. Again, it’s free to do, relatively low impact, and gets you out in the fresh air.
If you’re busy with work and can’t find the time to hit the streets, why not consider a folding treadmill for your home? You can squeeze in a stroll between meetings, and if you fancy a challenge, increase the intensity and push towards a run.
Either way, with running or walking, you’ll be able to enjoy the psychological benefits while getting fitter.
With foundations built around spirituality, this one could seem like the obvious choice. But with its close ties to meditation and breathing exercises, it’s synonymous with tranquillity and relaxation.
There are many types of yoga, but the activity as a whole can increase body awareness, and ease muscle tension and stress. Continuous focus on breathing allows yoga enthusiasts into the present, instigating a parasympathetic response in our brain, with the area responsible for helping us calm down.
It might seem scary to sit down and look into your own mind, but yoga can be the gateway to helping understand what you need, both physically and emotionally.
High Intensity Interval Training
This type of exercise has a reputation for increasing stress levels, thanks to the surge of cortisol and adrenaline. But the more active you become, the more your body adapts to it, learning to cope and becoming more resilient over time.
If you want a challenging workout that also gives your mental wellbeing a boost, then HIIT could be for you. Requiring little to no equipment, HIIT can be a quick and easy way to increase your heart rate.
Have you ever felt like hitting something might make you feel better? Well, the rumours of hitting a punchbag to release stress and anger are true, and finding an outlet for these feelings can be both healing and empowering.
The intensity of this activity helps deliver a decent supply of endorphins, and the punching and kicking are great stress-busters, ideal for relieving pent up aggression. Boxing can also help with self-esteem and confidence, allowing you to build strength and fitness, while learning about the importance of self-control.
Bodyweight exercises or lifting weights can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing, as well as on how you look. You can build muscle and self-esteem, as well as curbing anxiety.
Recent research revealed low to moderate intensity resistance training produces robust decreases in anxiety. There is also evidence that it could help improve cognition, as well as the function of our central nervous system, resulting in a positive impact on mood and fatigue levels.