Swimming can be the best sport to relieve stress while walking could clear a mental block, according to experts. TV personality and GP Dr Zoe Williams has recommended movements you can undertake to help improve certain moods.
She advises getting some fresh air by walking if you are having a mental block or feel unmotivated can help give you a boost, as this helps your heart to beat faster – providing fresh oxygenated blood to your brain, allowing you to think and focus better.
While the methodical movement of swimming gives you something to focus your mind on, helping to reduce stress levels, as well as releasing cortisol which can help to manage stress.
But dancing can be used as a way of quashing feelings of worry or anxiety as the physical activity can release endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, which give you feelings of happiness.
The advice comes after research of 3,000 adults, including 1,000 who have a long-term health condition, found 67 per cent of those who do some form of physical activity claim it helps their mood.
While 32 per cent feel their mood is lower if they don’t move or exercise as much as they usually would, with mental wellbeing the biggest factor for 18 per cent when choosing a physical activity.
However, for those with a long-term health condition, 38 per cent who do some form of physical activity believe it helps their wellbeing, with 23 per cent claiming the impact it has on their mental health is their top consideration.
Not moving as much as they would like causes 45 per cent of those with a long-term health condition to feel low, compared to 27 per cent of those living without a condition.
Dr Zoe Williams, who is working with We Are Undefeatable, which commissioned the research, said: “It can be frustrating at times if we do not move our bodies around for a long period of time.
“But, even the smallest of movements such as walking, or stretching can make you feel happier and healthier.
“Moving our bodies in any shape or form each day can uplift our moods and help increase our mobility and mental wellbeing.”
Improvement with movement
The study also found 42 per cent of adults without a health condition are active on more than five days a week – for around 43 minutes at a time.
But for those with a long-term health condition, this drops to 25 per cent, for 35 minutes at a time.
It also emerged a third feel disappointed if they get to the end of the day and haven’t done as much exercise as they’d hoped for, while 18 per cent feel uncomfortable with stiffness and pain due to lack of movement.
But 58 per cent feel they are already doing as much physical activity as they can, with this increasing to 75 per cent of those with a health condition.
Some of the most popular activities, of all the people surveyed, include walking (53 per cent), team sport activities (20 per cent) and swimming (18 per cent).
It also emerged 51 per cent of adults exercise on their own – 45 per cent because they want to be alone with their thoughts, 22 per cent worry they will be judged by others and 20 per cent fear they won’t be ‘fit enough’ to join in with others.
And of those with a health condition who like to be active solo, 28 per cent say their condition makes them feel self-conscious.
As a result, 52 per cent of those polled who are active do their exercise at home, according to the research carried out via OnePoll.
More than four in 10 (42 per cent) use tins of food as weights, while 18 per cent use the door frame for their activity.
Michelle Roberts, physical activity and health programme lead from the Richmond Group of Charities behind We Are Undefeatable, said:
“It’s so great to see from the research that everyone, including those living with an illness or health condition, can get an uplifting boost from physical activity, no matter how big or small it is.
“We want to encourage everyone to find the movements that match their mood and provide a source of inspiration for those that are unsure on where or how to start.”
Dr Zoe Williams’ Expert tips to help improve your mood through exercise
- No matter how you are feeling on any given day there’s a movement you can do to suit your energy levels and boost your mood. Aiming to do some physical activity every day can help us feel happier and healthier and over time could allow you to build up the time you spend being physically active.
- When you wake up feeling energised a brisk walk is a great way to get your body moving – for days that start slower a stroll can work to get your body moving and clear your mind. Walking is a great low impact cardio exercise which allows you to improve your fitness levels whilst being gentle on your joints.
- If you’re feeling stressed, you could try swimming for a calm and focused activity which is great for your body and mind. The swimming motion can also be done sitting on your sofa or at your desk – for an easy way to incorporate some movement into your day when you’re unable to get to a pool.
- If you’re feeling worried or anxious, aerobic activities such as dancing may be a great way to relieve tension and get your heart rate up in a good way. Physical activity releases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline which trigger positive feelings in your brain that can make you feel less stressed and anxious.
- When you’re having a mental block or feel unmotivated – getting some fresh air and moving your body outside is a great way to clear your mind. This outdoor movement could be an everyday task such as carrying shopping back from the shop, going on a dog walk or even doing some gardening.
- If you get to the end of the day and realise you haven’t moved as much as you could have, you could do some simple stretches and yoga moves before bed to help you unwind and rest easily.
Top 10 physical activities people do on a regular basis (once a week)
- Team sports i.e. football, tennis etc.
- Sit to stand
- Jogging outside