Being physically active and limiting your sedentary behaviour every day is essential for your health and wellbeing. Regular physical activity has many health benefits and plays an important role in promoting healthy weight. It can help prevent heart disease, type II diabetes and some cancers and also improve psychological wellbeing.
Physical exercise is good for our mental health and for our brains. Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking. Exercise can also stimulate other chemicals in the brain (brain derived neurotrophic factors) which help new brain cells to grow and develop. Exercise also seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.
Any exercise is better than none. A moderate level of exercise seems to work best. This is roughly equivalent to walking fast, but being able to talk to someone at the same time. It’s recommended that if you’re aged 12-18 you need 60 minutes, or if you’re over 18 you need 30 minutes, of moderate physical exercise on most, but preferably all days. This can be done in one 30 minute session or broken up into shorter 10 or 15 minute sessions.
When you’re feeling down the last thing you might feel like doing is working out, but studies have suggested that any activity, from walking around the block to yoga to biking could contribute to improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Physical Activity Guidelines
- Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
- Try to do 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise on most, but preferably all days.
- Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.