As described by the World Health Organisation, being healthy means that you are not only physically fit with no diseases, but you are also in good mental and social health. There has been a wide variety of research that shows that physical activity has a good impact on a number of mental health issues and how we behave around people, so it is by no coincidence that physical, mental and social health are all connected to each other. In fact, if one is not functioning very well there will be a number of effects on the other since usually it goes around in a cycle.
At present, it is recommended that an adult undertakes 150mins of moderate aerobic activity per week which is 2 ½ hrs a week. This can be anything that elevates your heart rate such that you start feeling warmer and increases your breathing rate such as walking to the station or cycling to work or going to the gym and engaging into resistance training or maybe a circuit-based class etc.
Although 2 ½ hrs might seem like a long time, in reality this only involves 30mins a day when split by 5 days. If you think that with your current schedule 30mins a day is unachievable, even a mere 10mins of raised heart rate can beneficial to our general health. A few of the impacts that physical activity has on our mental wellbeing is making us feel more energised, increasing our alertness as well as improving our mood to the better.
Just these 3 things will definitely make you more efficient at your work place and more interactive with your family, friends and colleagues. Other impacts that physical activity has on our mental health include reduction in stress, depression and anxiety and decrease in the chance of developing dementia and cognitive decline in our old age.
Some of the reason of all these positive effects are all down to hormones and chemicals that are released into our blood stream when we exercise. To name a few there are dopamine and serotonin which help us stay calm and focused and improve our concentration, brain derived neurotrophic factors which help develop new brain cells and pathways.
Another chemical is endorphin, also known as the happy chemical proven to reduce pain and increase energy. Lastly, adrenaline and noradrenaline. When we need to face stressful situations, our body produces stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol which increase our heart rate and blood pressure making us feel anxious. Physical activity has now become a type of medication for depression due to its positive effects.
With all the benefits that physical activity has on our mental health and well-being, it is hard to ignore the fact that we should all be doing some kind of exercises at some point during the day. As mentioned before, even as little as 10mins can be beneficial so why not start with a few minutes a day until you feel comfortable with around 30-45mins of exercise such that you then make it part of your everyday life.