Women’s Health Month continues! Today we’re talking about the benefits of physical activity on your mental health and wellbeing.
There’s loads of facts and stats out there showing that physical exercise isn’t just for increasing muscle mass and boosting aerobic capacity. The positive effects on your mental health are just as bountiful.
Exercise and Mood
Studies have shown that low-intensity aerobic exercise is a great mood-booster and can contribute to feelings of increased contentment and calm. Next time you’re avoiding giving the house a clean, pop some music on, get out the hoover and up that mood! Going out for a gentle stroll will also do wonders - it doesn’t have to be for long or very far, just a little bit goes a long way.
Exercise and Stress
Stress, fear and anxiety at manageable levels are our bodies’ way of saying, ‘I’m here, and I’m helping.’ But too much stress can wreak havoc and manifests in physical ways as well as mental and emotional. Exercise helps to diminish some of our fight-or-flight responses, can help you to sleep better, and might bring back appetite lost to stress or anxiety. Incorporating a regular fitness routine into your daily life can start to get you on track to feeling in a healthier mindset.
Exercise + Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is at its essence, how you feel about yourself and your sense of self worth. Having a regular routine that incorporates physical activity has been shown to positively impact just about every demographic’s relationship with their own feelings about themselves. Exercise isn’t all about losing fat and gaining muscle; so much of it is about your perceptions of self-value and how you can create a positive relationship with your own fine self!
A little goes a long way: Activity Guidelines
The HSE suggests the following as a guideline for activity by age group. Ability and fitness level obviously plays a big part in this (and Covid restrictions make things a little tougher, we get it!) so make sure you seek advice from a professional before kick-starting your physical activity programme!
Children + young people (aged 2 to 18)
“Children and young people should be active for at least 60 minutes every day. This should be at a moderate (average energy) to vigorous (full of energy) level.”
Adults (aged 18 to 64)
“Adults should be active for at least 30 minutes every day. This should be at moderate intensity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week).”
Older people (aged 65 and over)
“Older people should be active for at least 30 minutes every day. This should be at a moderate intensity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week). The focus should be on aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and balance.”
Adults with disabilities
“People with disabilities should be as active as their ability allows. Aim to meet adult guidelines of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on 5 days a week.”