If you’re feeling down or finding things difficult, physical activity may be the last thing you feel like doing, but its powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
Dr Nicola Burton, senior researcher at the University of Queensland, says when it comes to exercise “we’re not only talking about preventing poor mental health or treating it, but promoting good mental health.”
Find a physical activity that you enjoy (e.g. swimming, playing sports with friends or cycling) and make a plan to do it regularly.
The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week.
Tips to help you get started
- Start simple – increase your activity levels gradually to improve your self-confidence and build motivation for more energetic activities. Start with simple activities such as shopping, driving, gardening or small household tasks.
- Do what is enjoyable – people with anxiety or depression often lose interest and pleasure in doing things they once enjoyed. Plan activities that you used to find enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying with friends or family – with time the pleasure you feel from doing these activities will return.
- Include other people – people with anxiety or depression often withdraw from others, but continuing to socialise is an important part of recovery. Staying connected with friends and family can help increase wellbeing, confidence and provide opportunities to socialise.
- Make a plan – planning a routine can help people become more active. Make sure some form of exercise is included each day. Try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but be flexible.
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