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The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

5 minutes

Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. If you exe...

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. Children under age of 5 and 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 5-17 years - 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.

Best Apps

Here is a list of the best apps to help you train.

Best Activity Sharing App: Strava

You can share your runs and rides with a huge community, congratulate others on their efforts, ask for advice, and compete with friends and rivals to nab the (virtual) King of the Mountain jersey for your local hill. Strava is also incredibly simple to get started on, and perhaps the best bit is that all of the above is part of the free offering.

Download from App Store and Google Play

Best For Exercise Classes: Fiit

The classes are broken down by duration (there are 25-minute and 40-minute options), type (strength, cardio or “rebalance”, the latter meaning yoga and Pilates), difficulty level and body part.

Download from App Store and Google Play

Best Running App: Nike Run Club

This excellent app offers run tracking that covers key stats like pace, distance, and time if that’s what you’re after, but what sets it apart is the guided sessions and training plans.

Download from App Store and Google Play

Indoor Exercise

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 24 hours 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

CorePower Yoga: CorePower is still providing free access to a limited collection of online classes available weekly.

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.