The majority of people today are familiar with the physical benefits of exercise and potentially are aware of the benefits of exercise to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions.
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However, many may not be aware of the benefits exercise can have on mental health.
With a number of people now being confined due to COVID-19 or working in a stressful career, our mental health is something we need to be focusing on.
A number of studies have now been conducted demonstrating how exercise can assist with prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental health issues.
Regular exercise has been identified as a potential protective mechanism of depressive disorders.
One of the original studies conducted over an 18 year period, found those who exercised regularly were at lower risk of developing a depressive disorder than those who didn't exercise or ceased exercising after a period of time.
Exercise has also been shown to improve stress management, general well-being and self-esteem.
It is recommended that exercise dose should meet minimum public health guidelines for maintaining
health, which is 30 minutes most days of the week. It has also been suggested that higher amounts may have stronger effects on mental health, but may be more difficult to implement in practice, especially in these times where we are confined and lacking access to gyms and public areas.
Most studies tend to indicate aerobic exercise as superior to resistance exercise for mental health.
As with any exercise it may be necessary to slowly build up the amount exercise, and focus on increasing daily physical activity that suits each individual's needs and capabilities.
So, in these times where we are lacking social interaction and access to usual exercise options, how can we enhance our daily activity and improve our mental health?
Here are a few suggestions:
Do an online class. Many trainers are now providing classes online.
Drive to a national park or bushland area and take a long walk in nature.
Have a competition with friends as to who can complete the most steps per day using an activity tracker.
Play a game with kids in the back yard.
Go for a bike ride.
Put on music and dance.
Do small intervals of exercise throughout the day to accumulate 30 minutes or more.
Now is a time where we need to focus on maintaining our health and wellbeing as much as we possibly can.
Exercise can be beneficial to our mindset, physical health and assist with boosting immunity, so aim for 30 minutes per day to benefit your mood and health.
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