Exercise is a great and natural way to reduce the symptoms of a range of mental health conditions and improve your mood but what type of exercise should we be doing? And for how long?
Aerobic exercises are the best type of exercises to relieve mental health symptoms and improve your mood because they increase the amount of endorphins (AKA the body’s natural feel good chemical) in your body.
Aerobic exercises are activities that get your heart rate up, such as walking, running or jogging, swimming and cycling. However, you’re not just limited to these. In fact, dancing, boxing, football, rugby, tennis and basketball are all ways to get your cardio in whilst having fun with friends.
Although you’ll see more benefits from doing 60mins of Aerobic exercise a day it’s more important to pick an exercise that you enjoy and can do regularly. Below are a series of exercises you could try.
Running/jogging/walking/cycling – Running/jogging/walking/cycling increases, the amount of Endorphins, Serotonin (AKA the body’s happy chemical) and Norepinephrine (AKA the body’s stress response chemical) in your body which help boost your ability to deal with stress and mental tension. It also calms your mind which helps to reduce anxiety and negative thoughts, helps us sleep better and increases productivity and creativity.
Swimming – Whilst the social aspect and endorphins released in our body whilst swimming help to boost our mood and reduce multiple mental health symptoms it’s actually the colour blue that can have the most impact. Blue is a soothing and calming colour which can help reduce worry, stress and negative thoughts. Blue is also the colour of most pools and the ocean.
Boxing – Hitting a punchbag really does make you feel better. Not just because it increases the amount of endorphins in your body but because It’s a great and fun distraction. Boxing forces your mind to be present and focus on what you’re doing leaving no room for you to focus on negative thoughts or worries.
Team Sports – Sports such as football, rugby, basketball and tennis are all fun and socially engaging activities that help to reduce stress, worry and negative thoughts through the release of endorphins into your body and by providing you with a distraction from the wider world.
Dancing – Although dancing isn’t an Aerobic exercise it does provide the same decrease in stress, worry and negative thoughts as some forms of Aerobic exercise. It also boosts your energy, mood and mental wellbeing.
Resistance training – As well as strengthening muscles lifting weights can also build self-esteem, reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve cognitive and nerve function which can impact and improve your mood and fatigue levels.
Yoga – Yoga doesn’t provide much of an aerobic workout. However, it can increase the amount of serotonin in your body, help you to relax, release tension, stretch tight muscles caused by high stress or worry levels and improve your overall wellbeing.
Tai Chi – Tai Chi is a mind-body practice often described as “meditation on motion”. It’s a low intensity exercise that involves focusing on your breathing and a series of slow connecting movements which helps to reduce stress levels, worries and negative thoughts.