The Importance of Movement on Mental Health
Over the years, there has been ongoing research into mental health and how it is positively affected by movement and exercise. Studies have shown that not only can movement aid mental clarity, memory and concentration, but it can also help our cognitive abilities. In an article published by BMC Medicine, it also shows that reducing sedentary behaviour is possible through increasing activity, which itself is associated with a lower incidence of depression and anxiety disorders and can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in those with a disorder.
Benefits of movement on mental health
• Improved clarity, concentration and memory
• Improved mood
• Increased self-esteem
• Reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
• Promotes better sleep
Given the amount of time many of us spend sitting at a desk all day or absorbing ourselves in technology such as electronic games, television and social media, generations have unsurprisingly become less active. So, to ensure we keep our minds and bodies in optimum health, it’s important to step up the pace and increase the amount of exercise we undertake on a regular basis.
Tips for staying active at work
If you work in a sedentary job, there are ways that you can increase your daily movement.
• Ride or walk to work
• Take the stairs instead of the lift
• Instead of emailing or calling a colleague in the same building, walk over to them
• Suggest walking meetings outside if possible
• Make the most of your lunch break by going for a walk, bike ride or gym session
• Maximise shorter breaks to do the drinks’ run or walk on the spot while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil!
• Invest in a portable pedal exerciser that lets you keep your legs moving even when you’re sat at your desk.
Ways to stay motivated
If you don’t do regular exercise, it can often be difficult to get started, especially when it’s cold outside. But there are ways that can help you become more motivated and form a healthy routine.
1. Many people find it easier to exercise with someone else so try and find yourself an exercise buddy who’ll go to the gym, swimming or take long walks with you. You’ll probably find it much more fun being with a friend and you can also encourage each other.
2. Join a fitness class or take part in a group sport. A bit of healthy competition can be a great motivator to get yourself into shape and push yourself when you’re not feeling up to it.
3. Walking is a great way to keep moving without too much effort, and by paying close attention to the sights, sounds and scents of nature, you’re giving your mind a double workout.
4. Set yourself a goal or challenge and raise money for a charity at the same time. Once you’ve committed to the challenge and announced it to friends and family, it will make you more determined to stick to your goals.
5. Bundle a new active behaviour with something that you already enjoy doing, so for example, take a lunchtime walk while listening to your favourite blogger, audiobook, etc.
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