This next instalment of our How To Look After Your Mental Health series will focus on getting yourself moving.

In our first blog of this series, we explored why looking after your mental health is important, and the link between physical and mental health. Taking care of your physical health can help to care for your mental health too, whether you’re currently experiencing difficulties or not. A great way to take care of your physical health is to get moving!

How does it work?

Most people are aware that exercising is good for our bodies, lowering our risk of a range of physical conditions from heart disease to cancer. What we often don’t realise is that being active also has a positive effect on our brains. Exercising can lead to increased release of dopamine and serotonin, which affect our mood. Not only that, but exercise stimulates chemicals which help new brain cells to grow and develop. So, exercise can make us feel good and relieve stress!

One of the other issues to consider is that people who experience mental health issues are also more likely to struggle with their weight and diet. Getting active can help to offset these effects, and prevent serious health problems like heart disease, later in life.

So, what can I do?

Getting active doesn’t have to mean going running or going to the gym, although those things can help many people. As with other things we have explored, like talking and creative outlets, it’s important to find something that works for you.

Most schools and colleges offer PE or games lessons, as well as extracurricular clubs. This can be a great way to try out new sports and activities, as well as getting to know new people who enjoy similar activities to you. The majority of activities offered in this way are competitive sports, such as football, netball and athletics, but these don’t always have to be competitive – you can play for fun as well!

If you feel like those kinds of sports aren’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to get moving. The simplest of these is to walk more – get off the bus a stop early, or go for a walk in the park at the weekend. Other things you could try are swimming, dancing, or yoga.

Have a try of a few different activities and find one that works for you! The benefits of exercise won’t just help to relieve mental health issues, but also prevent physical health problems. Don’t forget, keeping active and exercising your body rather than your brain during high-stress situations such as your end of year exams is important as well.

Next week, we’ll be looking at how sleep can affect your mental health and things you can try to improve the quality of your sleep.

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