Craig Sanderson: Physical activity and mental health
Published on: 21st August 2020
Exercise… Brrrr! Many people wince at the thought of it. What you don’t realise is that any increase in activity can be classed as exercise, so by reading this article you may feel more motivated to start your journey of improved wellbeing.
Everybody is different, some can sprint, some can go for the long haul and others are happy just being able to walk to the car. However, when you start to struggle with symptoms of depression and stress you may notice that your activity levels drop. This leads us to a vicious cycle, the less you do the worse you feel. So how can you change this?
Simply get up onto your feet more often. The UK Chief Medical Officer recommends that you should try and disrupt long periods of sitting by moving around for 1 to 2 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly, just 1 to 2 minutes. The NHS recommends that regular short breaks are better than fewer long breaks, so why not set yourself a target to get up more often? Start slow, if you usually sit for 2 hours try and only sit for 1 and get up in the middle for a two-minute walk around the office. This can count as you starting to increase your physical activity.
Who is guilty of sending an email to someone next door? Yes, we’ve all done it! Increase your activity by walking to their office. The small changes will help! How about after a long day at work or looking after the children, do you sit and binge-watch your favourite TV programme? Guilty! Try and have breaks, although we recommend that you take time to relax, try and simply get up after each episode and do a small job such as washing your mug (I mean the thing you drink your tea out of!) or filling the washing machine. Again it’s small but it helps!
For some, the above will be a good start, for others you may be thinking that the above is a walk in the park. So why not? Get your walking shoes on and get outside. Try doing a short walk a day, or if you already walk the dog, pick up your pace and try and shave a few minutes off how long you current walk takes. Take in your surroundings, we often take Lincolnshire for granted and do not take in some of the treasures we have around us. Can you spot any wildlife? Change in the colours of the leaves? Or simply just enjoy the breeze on your face… ok so maybe it’s a bit early in the year to enjoy the breeze but focus on it and be aware of what is going on around you.
Ready for more? If you are then try a new or old activity that will get your heart racing (steady!). Why not join a Martial Arts class, the local dance studio or if finances are tight plan a schedule of some free home workouts which you can find online? Give it a go, you have nothing to lose.
Page 12 of the UK Chief Medical Officer’s report also states that if you exercise regularly it benefits your physical and mental health including a decrease in the risk of disease and a maintenance of physical and mental function.
The key to your physical and mental wellbeing is just a small movement away. Now I have been sat here for too long so I am off for a one minute walk around the office. Keep moving!