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  • Kedren Elliott

Exercise and your Mood

Many of us during lockdown have taken up activity to help us get out of the house and look after our fitness and overall wellbeing.


It's well documented that getting outdoors, connecting with nature and moving your body is not only good for your physical health but also for your mental health. Just last week Mental Health Awareness Week was all about connecting with nature and the benefits!


But exactly how does exercise help your brain and make you happier? Evidence shows being physically active can improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your confidence and self-esteem - it can help you feel better about yourself, and that you've achieved something

  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them

  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood - physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself

  • helping you enjoy a more restful sleep and wake up refreshed - as it will make you feel more tired at the end of the day and ready for a good nights sleep

  • be more relaxed and less stressed - doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for a difficult time

  • giving you more energy and vitality - at the time you may feel like you don't have the energy to do an activity, but starting off small, will help build your energy levels

  • reducing the risk of depression – studies have shown that doing regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression

  • connecting with people – doing group or team activities can help you meet new and like-minded people, and make new friends


So you can see how powerful being active can be, but remember different things work for different people. Being active doesn't have to be running a marathon or going to the gym every day, there are small things we can all do to build our fitness and strength. Going for a walk, doing some yoga, even doing housework or washing the car are all activities, it's anything that gets your heart rate going.


It's also important to remember to find something that you enjoy and make it part of your life.


If you feel like it's a chore you won't stick at it and if you need some extra motivation then find someone to do it who you. You can encourage and support each other and you'll be less likely to drop out if you've made that commitment to someone else.


How?


So now we've convinced you to get active, you might not know where to start, here are a few things to inspire you...

  • find free activities to help you get fit - there have been loads of free online classes since the pandemic started and you can search YouTube too

  • if you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability, check with your local council, leisure centre or doctors

  • start running with the Couch to 5k app/podcasts - or join a local running or walking group

  • find out how to start swimming, cycling or dancing - just having a dance around your kitchen when cooking dinner is a great way to get the body moving and no one can see you!

  • find out about getting started with exercise - again your local doctors, leisure centres or Cheshire One You has advice and resources to get you started

  • Ask friend and family, tell them that you want to get more active but you need help, they might start an activity with you or are doing something already that you could join in with


The important thing is to know there is plenty of help and resources out there to help you get started. Don't be afraid to ask. It's not all tight-fitting lycra and weight lifting, there is something out there for everyone!


It has to be right for you and for you to be able to take at your own pace whether you join a club or you just get more active in the comfort of your own home, you decide!










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