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 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.

Did you realise that physical activity is also widely believed to have a positive impact on our mood? 

A study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal in 2018, suggests that regular physical activity lasting 45 minutes three to five times a week can reduce poor mental health.  And the 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.

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.  Therefore, it isn’t surprising that depression is now a common mental disorder, with rates for this and anxiety are at recorded levels in the UK, and around the world.

So, for those looking to add a form of exercise into their routine to help improve their mental well-being, why not consider walking?

It is immediately accessible, and you can start right now by popping on some comfortable and suitable footwear, and just heading out of the door.

So just how can walking help beat depression?

Well it is tiring, so by making you feel more tired, physical activity can lead to better, more restful sleep.

Those feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy can lead to happier moods.

Add to this that physical activity is also known to release cortisol, a hormone which helps us manage stress, therefore the more active you become, the better you can feel about yourself. Especially as you improve and meet your goals, increasing your self-esteem.

Individuals should also consider group walking activities.   Joining a team can help you meet new and like-minded people, improving your positive connections with others. But for those that cant access local groups, consider joining online fitness communities, like Virtual Racing UK which has a fantastic and friendly Team community, all their ready to support you on your new found fitness journey.

As a Team, Virtual Racing UK also fundraise for several mental health charities including Rethink Mental Illness.  This in itself can also help lift individuals, with the realisation that their fitness journey is improving their own physical and mental well-being and raising valuable funds for charities. 

Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you.  So if you are looking to help combat depression, grab some shoes and get out to enjoy your surroundings.