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Becoming active for better wellbeing

Being physically active means sitting down less and moving more. Being active does not mean you have to exercise every day, train for a marathon or push your body to extremes.

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There are many different things you can do to be a bit more active.

Many people find that physical activity not only helps them maintain positive mental health but prevents their mental health deteriorating. Studies have shown that doing physical activity can improve mental health through:

  • Improving sleep

  • Increasing energy levels

  • Creating happier moods through the release of endorphins

  • Reducing stress and anxiety

  • Providing a distraction and reducing racing thoughts

  • Increasing self-esteem

  • Decreasing cravings for unhealthy food

  • Reducing the risk of depression

  • Providing opportunities to connect to other people

Even though we know being active is good for our mental health and wellbeing, it can be difficult being more active particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed or feel like things are getting in the way. Here are some tips on how to start getting active:

Start off slowly

It may take a while to build up your fitness. Doing too much at first will make you feel tired and may put you off.

Plan a realistic and achievable routine

Try to find ways to be active that fit into your day-to-day life around your commitments, or build activity into your daily life. Trying to move a bit more every day can really help.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes you can’t be as active as you would like, and your energy levels will vary on different days. It’s fine to slow down or take a break.

Try to identify your triggers and work around them

For example, if you find leaving the house difficult or don’t like to exercise in front of other people, you could try doing some exercise at home.

Keep trying

It may take a while to find an activity you like. As well as trying different activities, you may find that you prefer a particular class, instructor or group. 

Have some alternatives

If you can’t be as active as you would like, it’s a good idea to have alternative options that will help lift your mood.

Try not to compare yourself to other people

Set your own goals based on your own abilities and what you would like to achieve. Try to pay attention to how you are feeling and the progress you are making rather than other people.

If you are feeling unwell, it can be difficult to be physically active. If this is the case try not to be hard on yourself. You may need to focus on other things for a while, and build some physical activity into your routine once you’re feeling a bit better. It’s important to do what works best for you.

If you need support with your mental health and wellbeing, support is available. Contact your doctor or check out your local Mind services. Mind in Mid Herts Living Well programme offers a range of online courses and workshops to support by visiting www.mindinmidherts.org.uk

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