There are various ways that physical activity helps mental health, including:
Studies show that physical activity has a positive impact on our mood. One study asked people to rate their mood after a period of exercise (i.e. walking or gardening) and after inactivity (i.e. reading a book). Researchers found that people felt more awake, calmer and more content after physical activity.
For more information about the study, please see the Mental Health Foundation website.
Being regularly active is shown to have a beneficial impact on alleviating stress. It can help manage stressful lifestyles and can help us make better decisions when under pressure.
Research on working adults shows that active people tend to have lower stress rates compared to those who are less active.
Physical activity has a big impact on our self-esteem – that’s how we feel about ourselves and our perceived self-worth.
This is a key indicator of mental wellbeing. People with improved self-esteem can cope better with stress and improves relationships with others.
Depression and anxiety
Exercise has been described as a “wonder drug” in preventing and managing mental health. Many GPs now prescribe physical activity for depression, either on its own or together with other treatments.
It’s effective at both preventing onset of depression and managing symptoms.