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Movement: Moving more for mental health

Jackie Scruton writes

It doesn’t seem like a year ago since the last Mental Health Awareness Week. When I saw the theme for this year it made my heart sing! I have written before about how important exercise is for our mental wellbeing.

The theme made me wonder what we mean by movement, the impact of exercising and how we try to incorporate movement and exercise into our often busy daily lives.

Why does it matter?

Research has shown that if we exercise regularly it can help make us both happier and healthier, it is good for our minds and bodies. Our bodies release endorphins which help to reduce feelings of anxiety or stress. Movement can also help to prevent physical illness, which in turn can aid our mental wellbeing. Exercise and movement can also help us to sleep better and may help us to feel good about ourselves, supporting and raising our self esteem. 

It is important to try and build time for movement/ exercise into your day. It is worth considering joining a club or accessing classes at your local leisure centre/ gym. This may help you to spend time with new people and make new friends, all of which are good for our mental wellbeing. 

What type of movement can we do?  

It is important to note that movement does not have to be a specific activity, rather it could be doing the housework or gardening Other ideas to keep active can range from a walk in your local park /area, to going for a run,  using the gym or putting on  your favourite music track  and dancing to it in your living room ! Think about using little blocks of time to include stretching or balance work whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or taking up a new hobby e.g. Nordic walking or Pilates. 

How can I get started?

You need to decide what works best for you. It is interesting to note that The Chief Medical Office for the UK recommends that adults undertake weekly exercise of about 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity and 1 ¼ hours of vigorous activity .  It can be difficult to make time in our lives for exercise. It may be that you can alter your daily routine. For example if you normally drive somewhere think, can I walk or cycle instead. This can be a simple but effective change. Look at your diary at the start of your week, try and identify at least 15 minute slots of time where you can exercise, this may help you to stay focused.

Above all remember even a small amount of exercise is better than none. Good luck!

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