Exercises for Improved Mental Health

Maintaining a regular workout routine can be difficult, with our work and family obligations often taking up most of our free time, but being active can have a major positive impact on your overall health.

A study by the University College London found that increasing your activity levels from nothing to taking part in three exercise sessions a week can reduce the risk of depression by around 20%. But if you haven’t exercised in a while, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Getting Started

According to the NHS, to stay healthy, adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week – but going from nothing to 150 minutes is a daunting task.

Finding an activity you enjoy and can do regularly is the perfect place to start – even something as simple as taking the dog for a walk can get those endorphins firing. Start gradually, and as your fitness improves, you can increase the length and intensity of your workouts.

You should also consider where you workout, as the environment around you, is just as important as the workout. For example, if you love the outdoors, get outside!

Exercises for Improved Mental Health

Any exercise at all is better than nothing, but not all workouts were created equal. Here are some of our favourite exercises to improve physical and mental health:

Walking

Moving your body, in an effortless and enjoyable way will help you build confidence and consistency, and walking, or rambling for you adventurous types, is simple, accessible, and the perfect way to start working out.

Research has shown that low-intensity, low-impact aerobic exercise is an excellent way to encourage positive thoughts and improve alertness. Don’t set any harsh goals, or push yourself too hard, just start walking.

Yoga

If you are looking for something to compliment your new walking regime, but want something a little more dynamic, yoga is perfect.

Yoga can help you reconnect your mind and body – the gentle movements and mindful breathing exercises can be very therapeutic. Take a class, and see how it makes you feel.

Swimming

Swimming is another low-impact exercise that is hugely beneficial – but it is important to enjoy what you are doing, so if you hate the water, this one may not be for you.

Join an outdoor swimming club, or visit your local pool – adding 10 minutes of swimming into your daily routine can benefit your physical and mental health.

High-Intensity Interval Training

As you build confidence, and your exercise routine becomes more consistent, it might be worth increasing the intensity of your workouts.

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a form of interval training made up of short, high-intensity bursts of activity, followed by low-intensity recovery periods. It has a reputation for being stressful due to the release of cortisol, a hormone that responds to stress on the body. As you become more active your body will adapt and become more resilient to the stresses placed on it.

Dancing

This one seems like a no-brainer, but dancing, whether in the club, a class or your living room, is a fun way to burn a few calories and lose yourself in the music.

Whatever exercise you choose, have fun, be consistent, and don’t be too harsh on yourself, you’ve got to start somewhere.

My Possible Self is a clinically-backed mental health app that is designed to help people tackle early symptoms of stress, anxiety, and low mood. Download the app or sign up online, and try our FREE ‘Building Happiness and Wellbeing’ module today!

Sam Weston

Social media manager, content writer and an all-around good guy - I set a world record once upon a time!