Bear exercise in mind for a mental health boost
There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has and will continue to impact in some way on the mental health and wellbeing of many of us.
Our lives have been turned upside-down and routines have gone out the window for millions of people.
And it isn’t just living through the lockdown and its consequences that affects our thoughts and emotions.
As the restrictions are slowly beginning to ease, a lot of us are developing anxieties about how we will emerge and return to the life we knew before.
Until we are reassured, and the situation becomes more controlled we are having to adapt to constantly changing situations and that’s unsettling to say the least.
On the brighter side there has been some positives to the lockdown for many of us.
For some, it’s been an opportunity to channel more family time, to reach out to neighbours and those in the community who need our help.
We’ve witnessed acts of heart-melting kindness which have brought us together in solidarity and, at times, contentment and appreciation for the important things in life.
One thing is clear though, as well as caring for others, we must also remember to continue to care for ourselves both mentally and physically.
At Active Tameside we’ve focused our energies on continuing to support the communities we serve.
Our centres may be closed but we still have a responsibility to do everything we can to help people achieve good health and happiness in whatever way we can.
Whether it’s creating online workouts, keeping spirits up through our social media channels or writing informative and entertaining blogs, our soul purpose is to do our bit to help you stay active, healthy and happy through the more difficult times.
It’s no secret that exercise has huge benefits for mental health and wellbeing.
We see the physical benefits and most of us understand the multitude of health benefits.
But it’s often the way it makes us feel that keeps us coming back for more.
According to mental health charity Mind, there have been many studies which show physical activity can improve mental health.1
There’s evidence it can lift your mood due to the feel-good hormones it releases, helping you feel better about yourself and give you more energy.
It helps us sleep better – basically by tiring us out more by the end of the day.
It also helps us manage stress and anxiety through releasing cortisol, a hormone known to assist us with stress management.
Exercise and physical activity can also be a great distraction. It gives our brains a break and another focus as well as a more positive way of coping when things get tough.
And once our lives resemble more normality, there’s also the social benefits of class and team exercise to enjoy – another boost to mental health and wellbeing.
The beauty of exercise is there’s something for everyone.
No matter what your age or ability is, you’ll be able to find something that gets you moving more, from walking and climbing the stairs to jogging and cycling.
Adults are recommended to do 150-minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.2
These include brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing, hiking – even pushing a lawn mower!
If you’ve not exercised recently, start gradually and build up towards the 150-minute goal.
Even a 10-minute brisk walk can help you relax and clear the mind.
For those capable of more vigorous intensity activity, 75 minutes is recommended and includes jogging or running, aerobics, fast cycling and using a skipping rope.
We should also bear in the mind the impact the lockdown is having on our children who aren’t just affected by school closures but are also missing out on playing and socialising with their friends.
As well as the physical benefits, exercise is also important for their good mental health and wellbeing, particularly when they’re missing out so much during these times.
Guidelines recommend a minimum of 60 minutes a day of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity for those aged five and upwards.3
This can be tough with playgrounds closed but now restrictions have been lifted on the number of times we can go out to exercise each day, there are more opportunities to go for a bike ride, walking or even a jog, as well as playing out with siblings.
Our instructors have come up with all sorts of ways to work out at home to keep up our fitness and wellbeing.
From using everyday household objects to the relaxing and calming vibes of Tai Chi, you’ll find our latest online videos here.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please don’t suffer in silence.
Speaking to someone you can confide in often helps and can be the start of seeking support, should you need it.
The Mental Health Foundation is part of a national response to helping address the mental health and psychosocial aspects of the coronavirus outbreak.
They provide information and downloadable resources, including an exercise guide, on their website at mentalhealth.org.uk.
We often discover our own strengths at difficult times and find different ways to cope and adapt.
Exercise can certainly be a way to help alleviate the emotions around some of life’s stresses and strains and fire up a much needed feelgood factor.
Sending you our best wishes for staying safe, healthy and happy.
We’re always better together.
The Active Tameside Team