Physical wellbeing—mental health benefits

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Health Assured team

24 July 2020

Studies have shown that there is a 20% - 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity.

We are all aware of the benefits from taking part in physical activity and eating well - your risk of heart disease reduces, your joints improve, and your overall health develops as a result.

However, have you ever considered the positive effects that physical activity can bring to your mental health and wellbeing?

How can physical activity improve mental health?

Many studies have highlighted the link between a healthy body and a healthy mind. Here, we have listed several mental health benefits from engaging in regular physical activity:

Improve your mood - Studies have shown that regular physical activity can give your mood a boost. Experts say that low-intensity aerobic exercise – for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, for 10–12 weeks – is the best exercise to boost positive moods.

Managing stress & anxiety - Being active allows you to keep your mind focused on a task separate to your stressors. Exercise also releases cortisol - the hormone that allows our bodies to manage stressful emotions.

Self-esteem - Being more active and achieving your goals can boost your confidence and make you feel better about yourself.

Build relationships - Taking part in group or team activities can help you meet new people with similar interests and build new relationships with like-minded individuals.

Physical activity top tips

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week or 10000 steps per day (use a pedometer to track your progress) through a variety of activities. Here are a few top tips on how to incorporate physical activity in your day-to-day life:

Set yourself a daily target - Make yourself accountable by telling your friends, family and colleagues about your wellbeing goals. Whether it’s reaching a steps goal, achieving an hour of walking or eating a designated number of calories, ensure that you track your progress.

Healthy commute - Incorporate some physical activity into your daily commute. If you take public transport, get off a stop earlier and walk the remainder. Why not swap your car for your bicycle? It’s good for your health and the environment!

Join a gym/class - Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual workout classes have become readily accessible via personal devices. Encourage your friends to take part to bring a social element to the experience.

At home - Some people find it more comfortable, convenient and safe to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle while being at home. Activities include; working in the garden, mowing the grass, raking leaves, picking up rubbish.

At work - There are plenty of ways to achieve to your daily physical wellbeing goals while at work. For example, go for a walk on your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the lift to your floor or stand up every item you answer a phone call.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s common for us to neglect our physical wellbeing to accommodate other areas of our lives e.g. work, family, caring responsibilities.

As mentioned in this guidance, there are plenty of ways of incorporating more physical activity into our daily routine and as a result, your mental health will benefit too.

Health Assured's Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and Wisdom App can help you with all types of mental and physical wellbeing.

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