As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can relieve stress, sharpen memory, improve self-esteem and sleep quality, decrease symptoms of mental health conditions and overall boost one’s mood. There really is no shortage of mental health benefits when exercise is involved.
Exercise is scientifically proven to increase endorphin levels, aka feel-good hormones, which produces feelings of euphoria and minimises negative feelings related to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. No matter your age, life stage or fitness level, you can use exercise as an effective self-help strategy to combat daily stress or to ease the symptoms of mental health conditions.
Still not convinced on why regular exercise should be a part of your everyday life? Research estimates that nearly half (45%) of Australian adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and a staggering 20% of the population have experienced a common mental health condition in the past 12 months. These statistics highlight the importance of using exercise as a self-help strategy to improve your mental health and general well-being.
Whether you have experience with a mental health condition or just want to boost your mental health and well-being by reaping the benefits of exercise, here are a few endorphin-boosting, stress-releasing forms of exercise that you can incorporate in your everyday life…
Walking for Positivity
You do it every day, but what about for exercise? Walking is without a doubt the most accessible and inexpensive form of exercise that boasts great mental health benefits.
When experiencing a mental health condition, the thought of a long workout may be daunting or near impossible to achieve. The good news is that regular, low-impact physical activity, such as walking, can make a huge difference in your mental health by releasing those feel good hormones to give you a positive mental boost. Not to mention that taking a walk gives you a chance to relax, reflect and clear your mind of any negative thoughts.
If you are a beginner walker, a peaceful stroll along the beach or in the park after a busy day may be the best place to start. For a more advanced form of walking, try hiking. Hiking is a great activity that gets you out in nature, allowing you to engage in a more intense physical workout which will help maximise the mental health benefits.
Walking is also a great way to socialise with your family, friends and wider community. There are plenty of free walking groups to join that are open to all ages and fitness levels. The act of walking with others on the same path as you, both physically and mentally, will also do wonders for your mental health as it provides you with emotional comfort and support.
Yoga for Clarity
Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, bringing peace and happiness to those who have followed its meditation-based philosophies. The benefits of yoga extend far beyond the physical, with mental benefits ranging from mental clarity and stability to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Another plus is that yoga can be practised virtually anywhere, from the calming environment of a yoga class to the comfort of your own living room. Its focus on relaxation and mindfulness via meditation practices will provide you with useful, everyday techniques to combat feelings of stress and the effects of mental health conditions.
Research shows that participation in a yoga class can significantly decrease one’s anxiety levels and minimise the symptoms of depression. This means that stepping onto a mat may be one of the best practical self-help strategies you can incorporate in your everyday life to help manage your stress levels or mental health condition.
Remember, moving your body is key to gaining the mental health benefits of exercise. So, however you choose to move, keep doing it!
If you want to learn more about effective self-help strategies for your mental health, check out TrainSmart Australia’s Health and Community Services courses.