We must consider our mental health in a similar way to how we consider our physical health, whereby it is something we think about to stay healthy. Our own mental health is something we all should consider and sometimes our mental health is good, sometimes we struggle with it, and sometimes we have bad mental health.
There are various ways to support & improve your mental health levels depending on type of problem you are managing. Two of the major categories are Anxiety & Mood disorders.
Common mental health problems under these include but are not limited to:
- Anxiety- Panic attacks, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety & generalised anxiety
- Mood- Depression, bipolar, mania & SAD
While there are a variety of ways to support your good mental health & manage your poor mental health, one consistent that can benefit them all is having a good level of Physical Activity built into your week.
Benefits of Physical Activity on Mental Health:
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance wellbeing.
Participation in regular physical activity can:
- Increase our self-esteem
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase alertness
- Boost mood
- Increase energy levels
It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.
Lots of us don't get enough exercise to stay healthy, but physical activity is particularly important if you have a mental health problem. This is because people with mental health problems are more likely to:
- Have a poor diet
- Smoke or drink too much alcohol
- Be overweight or obese (this can be a side effect of taking medication)
So if you have a mental health problem, the health benefits of becoming more physically active are even more significant.
Top Tips to Help You Get Started:
- Start small. The biggest improvements come from making small changes that you can increase safely, and incorporate into your daily routine. Like taking the stairs not the lift; Parking at the back of the car park not by the door; Getting off the bus a stop early; Walk short journeys.
- Gentle aerobic activities are best – try starting with a gentle walk, bike ride, or swim.
- Strength building activity is also important. Try yoga or some resistance work to keep muscles strong.
- Chair-based exercises can be done at home and are a great way to get started back into physical activity.
- Gradually increase from 10 minutes of exercise to breathlessness each day, starting small with gradual steps aiming to increase your exercise capacity.
- When you're ready, try some more sociable exercises, like doubles badminton, dancing, yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or brisk walking with a friend. Exercising with a friend can help keep you committed.
- Try using an app like Public Health England's Active 10 app to monitor your walks and ensure you're walking briskly.
- Are you uncomfortable exercising in a group? There are lots of home-based activities that you can do to improve strength, stamina, and flexibility: mowing the lawn, digging in the garden or pushing a wheelbarrow, or doing chair-based exercises.
- As your strength, confidence and stamina improves, try to aim for the recommended 150 minutes moderate activity per week. This can be broken down into bouts of 10 - 20 minutes whenever you can fit it in.
- Be more active on your better days!
- Do something that you enjoy!
What Active Norfolk is doing locally:
We know sport and physical activity can be used as a tool to improve mental health and act as a hook to increase accessibility to support services. Male suicide is now the single biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK and rates in Norfolk are higher than the national average. We also know men with poor mental health are also less prone to engage with available services so Active Norfolk has built a partnership with local mental health and sports delivery organisations to identify, structure, and implement a physical activity intervention to address this local need – the project is called All to Play For.