Posted on November 5, 2019
How Staying Active Can Reduce Stress
Many people become more active to improve their health, manage their weight or increase their fitness level. But what about exercising for your mental health? As well as being good for your body, exercise is good for your mind too, and leading a more active lifestyle could help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Exercise can reduce fatigue, improve concentration and enhance cognitive function, all of which can be adversely affected by stress. Physical activity produces endorphins, the chemicals in our brains that act as natural painkillers, help us sleep better, relieve stress and make us happier.
How to improve your mental wellbeing with exercise
Becoming more active can have a big impact on your mental wellbeing. If you are suffering from stress and anxiety, here are three tips to help you incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.
- Find an activity you enjoy
Exercise doesn’t have to equal going to the gym. The key to making exercise a part of your routine is to find an activity that you enjoy and feel comfortable with, that fits into your daily life.
For some, that means a brisk walk at lunchtime or regular swim sessions. For others, exercising with friends or playing a team sport gives them the motivation to stay active. Whatever you choose, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
- Give yoga a go
With its focus on the connection between body and mind, yoga is a popular activity for those looking to de-stress. Studies have shown that slow, mindful activities like yoga can be better at boosting your mood and reducing stress than aerobic activity.
If you struggle to switch off and get a good night’s sleep, regular yoga practice could help improve the quality of your sleep. Meanwhile, the breathing and meditation techniques you learn can help you feel calmer when things get stressful.
- Get outside
During the winter months it can be tempting to stay indoors where it’s warm, but heading outside can do wonders for your wellbeing. From a walk in your favourite park to a weekend bike ride, there are lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s chilly.
As well as improving your mood, reducing stress and boosting your physical fitness, exercising outdoors will help you become more aware of your surroundings, appreciating the natural world around you and feeling more mindful.