Let’s Get Physical – The Link Between Physical Activity and Mental Well-Being

For many of us, the last month has been a transition period as we moved from our regular routine of leaving the house and heading to work, to either working from home or being unemployed. This change, along with the cool temperatures and social distancing restrictions has led to us spending a great deal of time indoors getting very little physical activity. We all know that lack of physical activity has a detrimental impact on our physical health, but how does it impact our mental health and overall well-being?

According to the World Health Organization, health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. With these three elements being interconnected it is no surprise that our physical health plays a large role in our mental health. Engaging in regular exercise can help to reduce anxiety and depression, while also improving our mood and cognitive abilities. On the flip side, a lack of physical activity can be just as harmful to our health as smoking.

So how can we get active under the current circumstances? It’s as easy as getting up and stretching or walking around the house every 20 to 30 minutes. If you have access to an outdoor space try to get out for a quick walk, even around the yard or the block. Make exercise a part of your daily routine, schedule time for it as you would any other task. Get your family involved by creating group challenges or goals, take it even further by getting friends or colleagues involved virtually. Ultimately, you should aim to get your heart rate up for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

 Wanting to take it beyond walking but worried about a lack of equipment? Here are some options to try out:

  • Dancing to your favorite song(s)

  • Push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, crunches or planks

  • Yoga or pilates

  • Strength training using makeshift weights (be creative, a jug filled with water for example)

  • You may also consider reaching out to local gyms to inquire as to whether they are renting out their equipment for use at home

  • Get your family or colleagues involved with photo scavenger hunts, these can be common items in the home or yard

Why not take the first step by making physical activity a part of your new routine starting today? Do it for your physical health, your mental health and your overall well-being. For further advice on how to get started check out this recent publication by the World Health Organization, as well as a recently released video, titled MOVE: Physical Activity by Dr. Bill Howatt of The Conference Board of Canada.

Now that you have finished reading this article it’s time to take a minute to stand up and stretch or go for a walk.

 

 

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