We already know the proven benefits of exercise and or physical activity on the body, but did you know how effective activity and movement can also be to increase mood, and ultimately help to fight both acute and chronic mental illness?
Exercise can make a big difference in mood and should to be a fundamental part of your mental health treatment. Even a single session of exercise (walking) or physical activity (gardening) is shown to have an increased effect compared to those who do not undertake any form of physical activity. Exercise can also counteract the side effects of some medications such as reducing the risk of falling by strengthening muscles and bones, and helping control body weight and blood pressure, which are well known issues associated with these types of medication.
So the next question to ask is what are the best exercises or activities to undertake? Research has continued to highlight the benefit of low intensity continuous movement, such as walking or hiking and for those you are able running. Other commonly used methods are Pilates and Yoga along with strength training, which all create a mind/muscle connection, therefore hypothetically taking your mind away from any stressors for that specific time. Strength training in particular isn’t as widely researched as yet but the benefits are growing with regards to body image, self-efficacy and confidence, in those who lift semi regularly due to feeling stronger and more athletic.
Take the time to read the following article and find out how exercise can make you fitter, healthier and happier