There are many reasons why physical activity is good for your body – having a healthy heart and improving your joints and bones are just two.
But did you know that physical activity is also beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing?
We need to change the way we view physical activity from being something we "have to / ought to do" to something we do because we personally value the positive benefits to our wellbeing.
What is physical activity?
It doesn’t have to mean going to the gym – at a basic level it just means movement of your body that uses muscles and expends energy – so there are endless possibilities to suit all.
The average adult should do between 75 and 150 minutes of exercise a week – any activity that raises your heart rate; makes you breath faster; makes you feel warmer – counts towards exercise. It can include:
Daily physical activity: i.e. work activity; walking to bus; stairs
Exercise i.e. Purposeful activity improving health/fitness
Play i.e. Un-structured fun activity
Sport i.e. Structured & Competitive activities. Team or individual
What impact does physical activity have on wellbeing?
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing.
Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Regular physical activity can increase self-esteem; reduce stress and anxiety; and reduces the risk of health problems.
Physical activity is available to all, has few costs attached, and is an empowering approach to support self-management.
Where do I start?
Aim to do 30 minutess a day five times a week – make time! – make it part of your daily life
Think about what else you want to get out of being active apart from improving your physical and mental wellbeing
Ask yourself do you prefer being indoors or out
Do you want to do a group or individual activity; alone or with a friend
Think outside the box – housework or gardening is physical activity and may be more appealing than the gym!
Be practical – get support from those around you
Start slowly and build up; set goals to measure progress.
For me I purchased a step tracker a few years ago, I measured my footstep distance and now aim each year to do at least 1000 miles per year. I may be at a PC much of the day, but I still:
park as far away as I can from the door to the building
use the lift when possible
walk fast when I can so it is more relevant
walk as much as possible at weekends / evenings / bank holidays