Nurturing your mental health through exercise

With the nights drawing in and days getting cooler, autumn has definitely arrived. Now is the time to start preparing for the winter ahead, and that includes nurturing and bolstering not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.

Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension and maintain healthy body weight – all extremely good reasons to get active!

But are you aware that regular physical activity can also improve your mental health? Being active reduces stress, increases energy levels, and can make us more alert and help us sleep better. It also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills.

 

The good news is that no matter how much you do, physical activity is good for your body and your mind. In observance of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, Places Leisure Head of Health & Fitness, Sarah Roberts, gives us her top five tips on how to move more and increase your physical activity this autumn.

Sarah notes, “During the spring and summer months, it’s easy for everyone to become more active and maintain higher levels of physical activity. But, as we move into the colder, darker months of the autumn and into the winter, we see activity levels begin to wane as motivation levels plummet. If you set good habits now, at the beginning of the autumn, it will help you to maintain motivation and activity levels all winter long. You’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better and, you’ll be nurturing your mental health, which will help to strengthen your overall wellbeing.”

Sarah’s tips for moving more this autumn:

  1. Get into a good habit
    Set a reminder on your phone to get up and move every 30 minutes throughout the day. Try stretching, doing 10 squats or arm raises between your virtual meetings and during TV ad breaks in the evening, or you could pace around the kitchen while the kettle's boiling.
  2. Leave your desk or house for lunch
    Lunchtime is a good opportunity to fit in some activity. Take a break to stretch and unwind, or even fit in a quick virtual workout from our Virtual Studio on our Places Locker app. https://www.placesleisure.org/places-locker/
  3. Stand whenever you can
    Try standing when you can instead of sitting – even short periods will add up and improve your strength.
  4. Track your progress
    Hitting your daily target will feel great! Using tracking apps on your phone can help, but even just a checklist on a piece of paper will do.
  5. It's always better together
    The more the merrier! Fitness provides a wonderful opportunity to socialise, keep fit and nurture your mental health all at the same time. Whether its an Aqua Fit class, Body Combat, five aside football or just a chat and a coffee in the café – your local Places Leisure is great place to socialise. We want everyone who enters our doors to feel a sense of community and belonging – where you can meet old friends and make new ones – all while bolstering your health and wellbeing.

So, why not start preparing for the winter ahead today? Begin sowing the seeds of increased activity now, and you’ll reap the benefits for your physical health as well as your mental health, all winter long.