How exercise can improve your mental health

How being outdoors improves your mental health

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ever-present in our minds and the social and economic implications it’s having, it’s apparent that mental health is and will become a bigger issue for society.

At present, social distancing laws dictate that exercise outdoors is allowed in groups of 2, or with family if you live together in one household. Despite these restrictions, now is even more important to connect with the great outdoors in order to look after our mental health. Here are some reasons why:

 

Alleviate depression and anxiety

Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster. Just 30 minutes can decrease symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Activity increases your endorphin levels (the “feel good” chemical produced by the brain that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria). Moderate exercise throughout the week can make a big difference.

 

Decrease stress

Another benefit to exercise is that it can reduce your stress levels. Increasing your heart rate can actually reverse stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones, which can improve cognition and mood, but improve that feeling of your thoughts being clouded by stress.

Exercise also forces your body’s central and sympathetic nervous systems to communicate with one another, improving your body’s ability to respond to stress.

 

Better sleep

If you find you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest, exercise is the cure for that! Physical activity increases body temperature, which can have a calming effect on the brain. Exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm (our bodies’ built-in alarm clock). That said, sleep experts don’t recommend exercising close to bedtime, so be sure to set your exercise routine earlier in the day.

 

Giving your brain a boost

From building intelligence to strengthening your memory, exercise can boost brainpower in several ways. Cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells that can improve overall brain performance. It also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.



Studies also prove that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy. So, if you’re in need of inspiration, your big idea could be just a walk or jog away! Plus, where possible, exercise in nature to experience other mood-boosting emotions. If you need help getting kitted up – take a look here at some of our suggestions: (link to previous blog of what Fjallraven products to take on a day hike)

*This blog post should be taken as general in advice. If you’re experiencing consistent anxiety and/or depression, please reach out to either of the following services:

 

Lifeline:

Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days)

Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight AEDT, 7 nights)

Chat online: https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat (7pm - midnight, 7 nights)

 

Beyond Blue:

Phone: 1300 224 636 (24 hours/7 days)

Chat online: https://online.beyondblue.org.au/ (3pm - 12am/7 days)

Email: https://online.beyondblue.org.au/email/#/send Receive a response in 24 hours

Online forums: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums (24 hours/7 days)


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