Good Mental Health - what does that look like.
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well being. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. A hour or 2 on the bike is even more beneficial. So get the wheels turning.
"It is an amazing time for reflection, space and wellbeing and getting back to nature- getting the endorphin's pumping!"
Participation in regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. 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.
Impact on our mood
Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood. A study asked people to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity, and periods of inactivity. Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity. They also found that the effect of physical activity on mood was greatest when mood was initially low.
There are many studies looking at physical activity at different levels of intensity and its impact on people’s mood. Overall, research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise – for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, for 10–12 weeks – was best at increasing positive moods (e.g. enthusiasm, alertness)So thats a good bike ride and even better if its a social one with friends.
Impact on our stress
When events occur that make us feel threatened or that upset our balance in some way, our body’s defences cut in and create a stress response, which may make us feel a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms and make us behave differently, and we may also experience emotions more intensely.
The most common physical signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, and loss of appetite.Symptoms like these are triggered by a rush of stress hormones in our body – otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. It is these hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which raise our blood pressure, increase our heart rate and increase the rate at which we perspire, preparing our body for an emergency response. They can also reduce blood flow to our skin and can reduce our stomach activity, while cortisol, another stress hormone, releases fat and sugar into the system to boost our energy.
Physical exercise can be very effective in relieving stress. Research on employed adults has found that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active.All of you riders who regularly do a weekly 20-50 mile ride.
Impact on our self-esteem
Exercise not only has a positive impact on our physical health, but it can also increase our self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. It is a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors.
Physical activity has been shown to have a positive influence on our self-esteem and self-worth. This relationship has been found in children, adolescents, young adults, adults and older people, and across both males and females.
Impact on depression and anxiety
Physical activity can be an alternative treatment for depression.It can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with medication and/or psychological therapy. It has few side effects and does not have the stigma that some people perceive to be attached to taking antidepressants or attending psychotherapy and counselling.
Physical activity can reduce levels of anxiety in people with mild symptoms and may also be helpful for treating clinical anxiety.Physical activity is available to all, has few costs attached, and is an empowering approach that can support self-management.
For more details about how physical activity can help increase wellbeing and prevent or manage mental health problems, read our full report, or get more information about how exercise can improve your mental health on the mental health website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
How much physical activity should I be doing?
We know all too well that that many people in the UK do not meet the current physical activity guidelines. With an average of only 65.5% of men and 54% of women meeting the recommended physical activity levels in 2015,it is important that more people are given the knowledge and support they need to make physical activity a healthy yet enjoyable part of life.The Department of Health recommends that adults should aim to be active daily and complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity over a week – the equivalent of 30 minutes five times a week.It may sound like a lot, but it isn’t as daunting as it first appears.
Suicide is the biggest killer amongst young men and it is rising in numbers for young women. Please help break the stigma and have the conversation. Thursday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day.
If you feel your Mental health is in a bad place and you need more support reach out - The first step is the biggest, however we are all MH first aiders and will be able to help signpost you to getting some help.