“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
In today’s blog we are having a little change and are looking into how physical activity is connected to mental well-being.
In the report for Mental Health Awareness Week 2013, you will read:
“If we are going to change our attitude to physical activity then it needs to become a natural and important part of our lives, not something else for us to find the time to do. For some people this will mean heading to the gym, but for others it may include taking the stairs at the train station or department store (rather than the lift or escalator) and walking or cycling to work or to the shops. For children it will be more about play.
As our lives have become more sedentary, many of us find we do not have to walk much in our daily lives and even our jobs have become more desk-based. Safety concerns about our children have also meant that children do not go out to play as often as they did 20 or 30 years ago, and gaming has become a key form of entertainment and interaction for young people.
We now need to rethink our relationship with physical activity and find ways to do more each day. Many forms of physical activity can be built into our everyday lives and become part of our regular routine. In this way we can regularly gain the wellbeing benefits of physical activity.”
There is accumulating evidence that physical activity generally, can be an effective way to enhance positive moods. For example, people with high levels of regular physical activity have been shown to have higher levels of positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness compared to people with moderate and low levels of physical activity.
Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity can help play a role in preventing mental health problems and improve the quality of life of those experiencing it.
A review of studies which have investigated the impact of exercise interventions on positive moods has shown that regular aerobic exercise results in moderate increases in positive moods. Overall the results indicated that low intensity aerobic exercise, for 30–35 min, on 3–5 days per week for 10–12 weeks was optimal for improving positive moods.
Despite there still being uncertainty as to the biological reasons for enhanced mood following exercise, there have been recent advances in understanding the impact of physical activity on overall brain health. For example, it has been shown that physical activity can improve brain plasticity, or the capacity of the brain to develop new neural pathways and for new neurons to grow during adulthood.
This goes to show how important it is to facilitate physical activity for any and every person. This is also what Kit Us Out means to promote, through our work with para-athletes around the world and by promoting physical activity for young, disadvantaged persons here in the UK.