Why exercise isn't just for our physical health

It is well known that an inactive lifestyle can significantly contribute to health issues such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes but it isn’t just our physical health and fitness that benefits from regular exercise.

Our mind and body are one being, not separate entities, and how we look after our body as a whole can have a very powerful effect on our mental wellbeing.

Exercise stimulates the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins and these natural feel-good hormones can leave us energised and often have a calming affect that improves our mood and outlook.

Physical activity is widely believed to have a positive impact on our mood and a 2018 study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal, suggests that regular physical activity lasting 45 minutes three to five times a week can reduce poor mental health. 

But the really good news is that the study found all types of activity to improve mental health, no matter people's age or gender, including doing the housework and looking after the children.

So for those looking to add a form of exercise into their routine, it is possible for everyone to find physical activities they enjoy, without having to spend hours in the gym. 

Virtual Racing is just one great way to add activity into your life and helps keep you goal focused.  Entrants sign up for a virtual race online and simply choose their own starting line, whether it's a treadmill or their local parkun.

They can truly run their own race with total freedom of time and location, and without the logistical anxiety and stress that live races can sometimes mean.  Entrants simply complete the distance, upload their finishing time and a few days later are mailed a medal as reward.

Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you.

If you find a physical activity you enjoy, earning medals as a reward for achieving those goals can certainly increase your feel-good factor.  Especially if you get to the stage when you start to display your lovely bling, showing yourself and those around you exactly what you can achieve.

So just how can physical activity help with our mental health?

  • Well it is tiring, so by making you feel more tired, physical activity can actually lead to better sleep.
  • Those feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy can lead to happier moods.
  • Physical activity is also known to release cortisol, a hormone which helps us manage stress.
  • The more active you become, it can make you feel better about yourself, especially as you improve and meet your goals, increasing your self-esteem.
  • Group activities or joining a team can actually help you meet new and like-minded people, improving your positive connections with others. Virtual Racing UK has a fantastic and friendly Team community.

If you or someone close to you suffers from mental health issues please please so seek out professional help, there are lots out there such as Rethink Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation and Mind to name just a few.

Remember you are not alone.

Depression is a common mental disorder and rates for this and anxiety are at recorded levels in the UK, and around the world. 

Life today is full on, everything is moving at such a fast pace, and the environment around us can often be so busy that it does become overwhelming.

As a Team we fundraise for several mental health charities including Rethink Mental Illness. 

So we asked their advice on where best to point Team members who may be struggling and find themselves needing to talk.  Please click here find a list of resources.