It's well known that regular exercise is good for our bodies – and there's good evidence that it can help improve our mental wellbeing too.
An Overview of Mental Health
Mental health affects how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Mental health services in England deal with a wide range of issues, such as:
- anxiety disorders, including panic attacksand phobias
- psychosis conditions
- obsessive compulsive disorders
- eating disorders
- trauma-related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- perinatal mental health conditions
- children's mental health conditions
- drugs and alcohol services
- ADHD and autism spectrum conditions
- mental health conditions related to living with long-term conditions
This means mental health services have to be able to cater for people from all walks of life and with very different needs. Mental health services in England are generally run in the following categories:
- adult services
- child and adolescent services
- forensic services
- learning disability services
- older adult's services
- substance misuse services
How these services are organised in each local area may differ. This means some may not cover all mental health conditions, or only deal with people of a certain age.
A Guide to UK-based Free Mental Health Helplines by Cassiobury Court.
Mood: when asked to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity (going for a walk, doing housework) and periods of inactivity (reading a book, watching television), participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active.When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (or 'feel good' hormones), which can calm anxiety and lift your mood.
Stress: when events occur that make us feel threatened or upset, our body's defences cut in and create a stress response, which may make us feel a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms. These symptoms are triggered by a rush of stress hormones – the fight or flight response. Adrenaline and noradrenaline raise our blood pressure, increase our heart rate and increase the rate at which we perspire. This causes us to feel stress. Physical activity is a good output for relieving these symptoms and consequently relieving stress.
Self-esteem: how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth 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. When you start to see your fitness levels increase and your body improve, it can give your self-esteem a big boost. The sense of achievement you get from learning new skills and achieving your goals can help you feel better about yourself and lift your mood.
Depression and anxiety: physical activity is increasingly used as an alternative treatment for depression. It can also reduce levels of anxiety in people with mild symptoms and may also be helpful for treating clinical anxiety.One study has found that by increasing your activity levels from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week, you can reduce your risk of depression by almost 20%.
Social and Emotional Benefits: being around other people is good for our mental health and social networks, plus you can maximise the benefits of exercising by doing it with other people. Lots of us enjoy being active because it's fun. Researchers have shown that there's a link between the things we enjoy doing and improvements in our wellbeing overall.
Don't forget the physical benefits too. Being physically active can reduce your risk of some diseases, improve the health of your organs and bones, help you to maintain a healthy weight and give you more energy.
Quick tips for being more active - Watch the video for five ways to get moving and feel better.
Find Mental Health Activities Near You
Use the search below to find local activities near you.
National Governing Bodies
- Contact Name
- Contact Email
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- 020 8519 2122