Exercise is a vital element to ensure optimum wellbeing. Finding the best kind of exercise for you, could be the key that you need to unlock the door of psychosocial rewards associated with exercise. Any physical activity increases endorphins, which improves your happiness levels. Happiness is a factor of wellbeing which is why we recommend exercising as a way of improving mental states. It relieves stress, clears peoples head, increases self-esteem and reduces anxiety.
Your mental health changes naturally all the time. Many different factors can affect your mental health in a positive and negative way. Stress caused by money problems, bereavement, work or relationship problems are common reasons behind depression and anxiety. The Department of Health set a weekly exercise target of 2.5 hours of moderate intensity. This target is only met by 65.5% of men and 54% of women. If you do not get 2.5 hours a week of exercise, we have pinpointed 6 exercises which reap the best benefits in terms of improving your mental health.
Exercises that are best for improving your mental health:
- Walking – let’s start off simple. Walking is both effective and affordable (it’s free!) and can be very beneficial. Not only is it an easy, effortless and enjoyable exercise to carry out, it can be suited to everyone on the exercise spectrum. Past studies have found that walking, as it is a low-intensity aerobic activity, is the best form of exercise for improving and increasing positive thoughts and alertness.
- Yoga – similar to walking, can be carried out by anyone who would like to undertake a soothing, gentle movement exercise. It can benefit mental health in several ways. It moves you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. (From flight-or-fight to rest and digest) this has an effect on anxiety as it allows you to reach a much more relaxed state.
- Swimming – “Rhythmic and aerobic forms of exercise like swimming improve psychological wellbeing” It has been proven that swimming for 1.5 hours a week – can lower stress levels, raise mood, lower depression and anxiety and incidents related to this, and improve sleep patterns. Due to this, swimming can increase satisfaction in life and enhance self-worth.
- HIIT – High intensity exercise is known for heightening stress levels however, HIIT has been said to improve your mental health over time, as when your body gets used to the intensity of it, your body’s resilience will increase. The more resilient you become, the more able you will be to cope with stressful situations and develop your coping mechanisms related to stress.
- Cycling – riding a bike can be relaxing, especially when riding your bike outside in a peaceful location, but can also reduce any tension you feel throughout the day regardless of the location etc. It is said to decrease stress levels, increase self-esteem and decrease anxiety.
- Dance – dancing can literally lift your happiness and self-esteem levels. This mood boosting exercise can be done anywhere, with anyone and can improve heart health, overall muscle strength, balance and coordination, and reduce depression.
- Rest – it is important to ensure you create a balance between resting and exercise!