23rd - 29th March 2020 is National Workouts and Wellbeing week.
Most of us probably already know that we should be making time to workout more. It’s true that regular exercise can boost our sense of wellbeing as well as our physical health. Exercise can help to build our self esteem as well as reducing anxiety and low mood. When we exercise, our brains release chemicals like serotonin and endorphins which help to make us feel happier and less stressed.
How often should we exercise?
Well, the good news is that you don’t need to be sweating it out at the gym seven days a week to improve your mood. In 2018, The Lancet Psychiatry released the results of a huge study of 1.2 million people. They concluded that the optimum amount of exercise for mental health benefits is just 30 - 60 minutes, three to five times per week. The study showed that those people who regularly exercised had 40% better mental health.
But with busy lives and so many demands on our time, how do we make sure we’re doing it? Sometimes just the thought of beginning a new regime can be overwhelming. Especially if we’re already feeling low. Knowing where to start can be a challenge.
To help, we’ve put together a list of 5 ideas to help you incorporate workouts for wellbeing into your life.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Having a buddy to workout with has lots of benefits. For a start, if you’re committed to going with a friend, you’re less likely to back out. Apart from that, it’s a great opportunity to catch up and have a good chat - double the benefits for your mental wellbeing.
Make it fun
Let’s be honest. If you choose a workout you don’t enjoy, you’re not going to stick to it. There are so many different ways of working out, whether that’s joining a class, putting some music on and dancing round your living room for half an hour or going out for a walk (see tip 3). You might have to try a few to find one that’s right for you, but don’t give up. When you find something you enjoy, it won’t feel like a chore.
Being outdoors is great for our mental health. Fresh air, natural light and exercise all combine to give us a real boost. It could be a quick stroll around the block in morning or a weekend hike in the hills. You might take a walk with a friend, join a walking club and make new friends, or take the opportunity to gather your own thoughts by yourself. Walking is a great workout and what’s more, it’s free and you don’t need any special equipment.
Set yourself an achievable challenge
What is ‘achievable’ will be different for every person so start small. It’s better to achieve your goals and then reset bigger ones, than to set goals that are too big and set yourself up to fail. If you’re up for a challenge, why not try something like the NHS couch to 5k app which guides you from absolute non runner to running 5k in an easy to follow 9 week programme. You can find details here.
Keeping a record of your workouts is a great way of monitoring your progress. You could make a note of how much fitter you feel, or happier. Or you might record when you have really tough days and how you feel before and after exercising, to remind yourself why you’re doing it.
Don’t forget that you can search the You In Mind website for groups and activities in your area.
As always, we’d love to hear from you. Why not get in touch and tell us about your own experiences of working out for wellbeing? You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - or email us at [email protected]