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Exercise and mental health

Exercise can be hugely beneficial to how you feel. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, a low mood or stress, some physical activity can be a really good way to help boost your mental wellbeing.

What are the mental health benefits of exercising?

Physical and mental wellbeing go hand in hand. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking increases our alertness, energy and positive mood.

Exercise can help aid a good night’s sleep, and regular physical activity has also been suggested to reduce stress and enhance self-esteem.

As well as releasing endorphins (the feel good hormone), exercise and physical movement can also help decrease the production of stress hormones in the longer-term.

What exercise can I do?

We know exercising isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but you don’t have to take on a marathon or hit the gym a few days a week (unless you want to!) Getting exercise can be as simple as a stroll in the park, taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus one stop earlier.

If you are feeling particularly stressed, try to take a break from what you are doing and get moving - pop outside, do some stretches or take a quick dance break!

Finding something that works for you can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.

If you need some inspiration to get you started, here are some of our texters’ favourite ways of exercising:

🌳 Getting outside for some fresh air

🏃‍♀️ Jogging and running

⚽ Exercising or playing games with friends

🎶 Working out to music

👟 Going to the gym

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Ever considered pet yoga - or doga?

Doing yoga with your pet - or doga (dog-yoga) - can be a wonderful way to build and maintain a positive bond with them, whilst relaxing and getting some exercise.

It can help provide much needed and desired social contact for both yourself and your pet.

It can be perfect for relaxing, re-connecting and providing self-care after a difficult day.

What if I can’t exercise?

For some people, it can be hard to exercise, especially if you are feeling particularly unwell, demotivated, or you have a physical condition which restricts your ability to be active.

Go easy on yourself. Only do what you can, when you can, and try to remember that it’s ok to adapt your physical activity to how you’re feeling.

You can also try other self-care activities, like sitting outdoors, listening to your favourite music, doing breathing exercises and practising mindfulness.

For more ideas, check out our Little Book of Coping Skills, which is packed with tips and activities that our texters have told us help them to feel calmer.