Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week: How Can Movement Improve Your Mental Health?

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK, and it’s time to talk about something super important: movement and mental health. Getting our bodies moving isn’t just good for our physical health; it’s like a secret superpower for our minds too. So many of us spend our working days sitting at our desks before sitting on our sofas, and adding a little more movement into our lives can do wonders for our well-being.

First things first, did you know that regular physical activity can actually lower our risk of depression by up to 30%? Movement is a natural mood booster that’s just waiting for us to lace up our trainers and hit the pavement. Even something as simple as taking a brisk walk for just one hour, five days a week, can slash the chances of major depression by a whopping 26%. How amazing is that?

However, don’t assume that the more intense your movement, the better it is for you.  It isn’t just about hitting the gym or sweating it out in a hardcore workout class. It’s all about finding what works for our bodies and brings us happiness. Whether it’s busting a move on the dance floor, digging in the garden, or going for a leisurely bike ride, or stretching it out with a yoga routine, there’s something out there for everyone.

Now, let’s talk science. Studies have shown time and time again that exercise directly impacts our mental health. One review of 30 studies found that exercise can significantly reduce depressive symptoms. Aerobic exercise, like jogging, cycling, or swimming, can be just as effective as popping a pill or chatting with a therapist for folks dealing with mild to moderate depression. While formal mental health treatment can be expensive and hard to access, don’t discount how movement can help you short-term.

But it’s not just our minds that benefit from getting our bodies moving; it’s our whole selves! When we engage in physical activity, we’re not just working up a sweat; we’re also connecting with our bodies on a deeper level. It’s like we’re saying, “Hey, body, I see you, and I’m taking care of you.” That mind-body connection is key for building resilience and handling whatever life throws our way.

And guess what? Movement doesn’t have to be a solo gig. Exercise is a brilliant way to build connections and foster a sense of community. Whether it’s joining a local sports team, signing up for a group fitness class, or going for a hike with friends, moving together is not only fun but also seriously good for our mental health. Studies have even shown that being active outdoors can boost our mood and banish those pesky negative feelings.

If you’re not already convinced, there is growing evidence that exercise is effective in keeping our brains sharp as a tack. Did you know that regular physical activity can lower our risk of cognitive decline and dementia by up to 30%? It’s like giving our brains a little workout along with our bodies. Just 10 minutes of moderate exercise can help improve your concentration, leaving you more alert and energised. So, the next time you’re feeling a bit foggy, make sure your try getting up and get moving.

Movement isn’t just about staying fit; it’s about taking care of our minds, bodies, and souls. Every little bit of movement counts. So, let’s grab our water bottles, and get ready to feel the mental magic of movement! You’ve got this!


Molly Forsyth

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