We know, it is an unusual time in our lives while we stay at home, and motivation may be scarce. But exercise is one of the ways you can improve your mental wellbeing, so let’s get you moving!
Intuitively, we know that once we get into exercise, it is enjoyable, gets the family together and helps relieve stress.
And many studies confirm what we know to be good for us – that there is a strong link between physical activity and good mental health, as well as the onset and prevalence of chronic diseases of lifestyle such as diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure and certain cancers.
Early in 2019, the European Society of Cardiology found that over 20 years, a sedentary lifestyle can double our risk of premature death compared to those who are physically active.
For a nation that is obesogenic and ranked as one of the most unhealthy on earth in 2019 (Indigo Wellness Index), we simply cannot afford to ignore the long-term benefits of regular exercise while we stay at home.
Physical activity and your mental wellbeing
"Regular physical activity is associated with a greater sense of well-being and lower rates of depression and anxiety across," says Dr Seranne Motilal, Vitality Wellness clinician, who specialises in mental wellbeing.
She says, the psychological benefits of regular exercise affect us at molecular level. "It is quite fascinating, and evolutionary, that exercise causes chemical changes in our brain that boosts our mood," says Motilal. Other benefits to mood include that exercise:
- raises our self-esteem and self-worth
- helps relieve stress and anxiety
- lessens the likelihood and symptoms of depression
- improves sleep
- provides an opportunity to connect with others and
- reduces the likelihood of cognitive decline and dementia
A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal, investigated the association between physical exercise and mental health in 1.2 million adults in the United States. It found that people who exercised had 43.2% fewer days of poor mental health in the past month, than individuals who did not exercise.
And all exercise types were associated with this reduction, when compared to people who were not exercising at all.
The benefits of mind-body exercises
"We know there is research which shows that exercise can be considered as treatment for the management of depression. This applies to both aerobic and mixed exercises. There may also be benefit in training at higher intensity, if possible. Moderate and vigorous intensity exercises where shown to be more effective than light to moderate intensity exercises", says Dr Seranne Motilal, Discovery Wellness clinician.
So, whatever you can do, is good for you. Just stick to your doctor’s health guidelines if you have any existing conditions to consider.
And those exercises which focus on both the body and mind are often low-intensity, calming and mindful exercises like yoga, tai chi and similar.
"Mind-body activity is defined by some form of movement or body positioning with a focus on breathing and a cleared or calm state of mind with a goal of relaxation. Doing mind-body activity, such as yoga, may be beneficial in maintaining a sense of wellbeing among people who are in good emotional health, and may benefit some individuals with depression and anxiety as well, " says Motilal.
For a range of exercise guidelines and fitness classes, yoga, children’s workouts and more, visit the Vitality at Home page. We're challenging you to stay fit at home by giving you round-the-clock workouts from our Virgin Active trainers, FREE LIVE home workouts every day with JEFF, and fitness challenges from our Vitality ambassadors.
Stay home. Stay fit. Stay rewarded.