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Depression and Regular Exercise: Why Physical Activity Improves Your Mental Health

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

We have all faced unique challenges over the last 18 months, and have been impacted both mentally and physically in our own, unique ways. Our physical and mental health are intrinsically linked, so these periods of inactivity can also have a devastating effect on our mental health, with depression quickly setting in - and it is important not to form a habit of this lack of activity.

It was easy for us to neglect exercise in lockdown, for example. After all, we had no reason to leave the house, we couldn’t mix with our friends and family. Not to mention that gyms in Liverpool were closed, and few of us have a home gym and there was a temptation to just lie in bed. Especially in winter – nobody likes getting up on cold mornings anyway!

Exercise Lifts Your Mood

Regular exercise can give you a much needed boost, and is especially important now that we are leaving recent circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even if you're thinking "every gym near me is closed", a brisk 10 minute walk can release enough endorphins to save your peace of mind for the day.

There have been many studies that have proven how much your mood lifts after a period of physical activity.

One such study, as cited in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology asked participants to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity and inactivity. Even in the simplest of tasks, such as housework, found that they felt more content, awake and calm after engaging in physical activity.

What Is The Most Effective Level of Physical Activity?

There are different levels of physical activity, and each has a different impact on your mood.

Overall, research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise – half an hour, 3-5 times a week for 10-12 weeks– was best at increasing positivity, lowering stress and boosting self-esteem.

This is vital to tackle the obstacles we are all facing during this pandemic, and the lasting impact of them.

Whether we are working from home, confined in small spaces with our families or spending too much time alone, the risk of cabin fever is very real and we must do all we can to combat it for our own wellbeing.

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