“Adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you. The more you do the better.” NHS UK
Moving your body and undertaking different forms of activity provide you with a whole range of physical and mental benefits.
And with NHS UK recommending each of us do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, we’re taking a look at some of the benefits simple every day acts of moving can bring.
As always, we invite you to take a little time now to dive in and remind yourself of the joy of living your life to its fullest through what the NHS calls the miracle cure that is exercise and movement.
How we feel
Regular physical activity boosts our self-esteem and can make us feel more confident and able to interact with others. It can also reduce the risks of stress and depression, and for some people, doing just 30 minutes of light to moderate intensity exercise like walking or jogging can be highly effective in managing those feelings.
With all sorts of different factors coming into play – like being distracted from negative thoughts to balancing key neurotransmitters, including serotonin – this can only be a positive.
Not getting enough sleep? Well…
Many of us have a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep. This can be particularly true when we’re going through times of change or challenge.
It’s well documented that by bringing exercise and more movement into our days, we find it easier to fall asleep and to experience sounder sleep, so really think about making movement and exercise a part of your day to help you relax and get the sleep your body needs.
Be More Productive
One of the most common reasons people give for not exercising, is a lack of time and/or energy, which is a shame since studies indicate that when people exercise, they have more energy and are often more focused and productive.
Decades of research shows that exercise doesn’t just lead to feeling healthy; it really does make us perform better at work. This is because exercising and moving regularly gets the blood flowing to the brain, which enables us to focus more effectively. Not only that, but it activates memory regions within the brain which means we’re able to able to soak up information more quickly.
Oh and it puts us in a good mood – what’s not to like about those benefits?
But…we know it can be a challenge
At a time like this, when our normal routines might have changed considerably, it’s easy to skip a workout or allocate time out to focus on you.
Previously we’ve looked at the challenges that working in this current situation can have for some. But making time to get moving, the body warm and the mind positively distracted, is crucial. Here are some of the ways you can make that happen.
Scheduling – the key to making a workout happen is to put it in your calendar. This applies to all of us, whether we’re working at home or on site. Scheduling helps to organise the day, our focus and thinking, so don’t give in to the temptation to ignore using it for exercise.
Timing – you need to work out what times work best for you. For some, starting the day with early morning pre-work sessions is the way to get to going. For others, an end of day session not only helps to release the day, but also tells your mind that the work day is over and now it’s time for you. You might even be someone who really benefits from a ‘middle of the day’ lunchtime session to help you refocus for your afternoon. And of course, you may also love to mix it up and flex your sessions to fit whatever is happening in your day. If you don’t already know which you prefer, play around with different times and see how they make you feel. One size or approach doesn’t fit all, so make it yours.
The mind body connectors – It’s well known that we can carry and hold tension in our bodies and we don’t realise it until it’s gone, so you might want to try out some new and different ways of exercising and moving your body. Focusing on the mind-body connection through a yoga-based approach and exercises can help with this. If you haven’t done yoga before, why not try it and/or focused stretching sessions where the combination of breathing and controlled movements refresh both the body and mind. And of course, mindfulness and meditation can also help relieve stress and any anxiety or worry you may be feeling.
Whatever you choose to do, it really is true that the more you can do, the better you’ll feel and the healthier you’ll be both in mind and body.
Today’s Take Away
Without a doubt, most people are less active nowadays. Much of this is due to how we live our lives using increased technology like cars, public transport and even machines that do housework for us. For many of us, entertainment can often centre on TV or through a computer screen.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: all activity counts!
At a time like this, for many of us we need to be more flexible in when and what we do to keep moving. What’s important is that we do something! So consider adding some (or all) of the ideas we’ve outlined here to your day-to-day activities, and you’ll soon see the benefits.
With increased mental clarity, ease of movement and better concentration, you can only succeed.
NHS – Get active your way: Find out how to build physical activity and exercise into your day, whatever your age or situation
The health benefits of living an active lifestyle: For a summary on the health benefits of being more active, check out this Department of Health infographic (PDF, 500kb)