his week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and many people are focussing on their mental health. Particularly during the past few months, mental health has been seriously challenged because of the unprecedented effects of coronavirus. Whilst sadly the worst has happened for some, all of us have been affected in some way by the changes enforced to try and control the pandemic.
Human beings are social beings and the isolation of lockdown has left some people struggling with feelings of loneliness, alongside the anxiety over fears of job losses, reduced incomes and other issues.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek takes place from 18-24 May 2020. The theme for this year is kindness, recognising the impact that kindness can have in strengthening relationships and bringing people together.
According to the Mental Health Foundation website, mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide[i]. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem[ii].
Yet there are many things we can all do to look after our mental health, and exercise is one of them.
According to an American study published on The Lancet, individuals who exercised had 43.2% fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and sociodemographic characteristics. In short, those who did regular physical exercise reported less mental health issues.
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”
If any of you have watched #PEwithJoe over the past few weeks, you’ll have heard him talk about how he always feels better after exercise. Firstly, that’s because medical studies show that exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, also known as a ‘happy hormone’. Secondly, studies show that exercise reduces the levels of chemicals related to stress in your body[iii].
“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
Paul D. White
The key to unlocking the power of exercise on mental health is about finding what works for you.
If physical constraints are holding you back, seeking help through physiotherapy can help you recover from injuries and regain mobility. If you’re struggling to get out of the house, online Pilates classes can be done from the comfort of your own home, with just a mat required as equipment. Yoga classes are often associated with mental health benefits as practice focusses not just on physical movement but on meditation and the use of the mind to control the body. Our resident yoga teacher Danni specialises in bringing together meditation, yoga and other holistic practices to improve overall wellbeing.
So if you can do one thing to be kind this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, it is to be kind to yourself and those around you by making time for exercise. From a simple beach walk to a forest bike ride, a game of tennis, an online Pilates class and more, there are many ways that even when socially distancing, you can improve your mental health through exercise.
“Since starting Pilates I’m amazed how quickly I noticed the benefits and results. It’s a great workout for the entire body. I always leave the class feeling better, mentally and physically.”
At Bridge Health & Wellbeing we provide physiotherapy, rehabilitation, Pilates and yoga classes from our state-of-the-art fitness space in Christchurch, Dorset.
Contact us on 01202 473800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about how our friendly team of experts can help you get better, build strength and feel happy and healthy in your mind and body.
Check out our Facebook page for the latest timetable of online classes and don’t forget – your first class is free. So get in touch to book yours today.
[i] Vos, T., et al. (2013) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The Lancet. 386 (9995). pp. 743-800.
[ii] McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748/apms-2014-full-rpt.pdf [Accesed 5 October 2016]