The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.
How much exercise do I need?
WHO has detailed recommendations on the amount of physical activity people of all ages should do to benefit their health and wellbeing. (available here for children under age of 5 and here for youth, adults and olders)
Here are the minimum recommended levels:
Infants under the age of 1 year need to
- be physically active several times a day.
Children under 5 years of age
- should spend at least 180 minutes a day in physical activities, with 3-4 year-olds being moderately or vigorously active for an hour a day.
Children and adolescents aged 5-17years
- all children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 days per week.
Adults aged over 18 years
- should do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, including muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week.
- older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
But any physical activity is better than none. Start with small amounts and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.
Here is a list of the best apps to help you train.
Best Activity Sharing App: Strava
Best For Exercise Classes: Fiit
Best Running App: Nike Run Club
But what if you must completely self-isolate for medical reason? Or you have a disability that stops you from taking exercise or you are a single parent and you can’t ask anyone to watch your child whilst you go out for a run or walk? Being cooped up in the house 24hr a day will certainly add to your stress levels and feelings of anxiety.
We have put together a list of online fitness classes.
Best online fitness classes
The Body Coach - Free HIIT workouts from the Nations Favourite PE teacher Joe Wicks. Great workouts for the whole family.
Barrys Bootcamp - Free full body workouts from Barry's Bootcamp on Instagram
YMCA: A new free online community program, YMCA 360, offers on-demand programs and digital coaching. The program includes some of the Y’s most popular group exercise classes like boot camp, barre, yoga, and low impact programs for seniors.