World Mental Health Day 2020
With World Mental Health Day being celebrated on Saturday 10th October, it’s the perfect time to discuss how physical activity is not just great for your body, but for your mind too!
Whilst your mental health should be a priority all year round, World Mental Health Day presents an opportunity to enhance global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This year in particular, the uncertainty and isolation that has arisen from lockdown restrictions has the potential to induce stress, anxiety and general mood reduction to a much greater degree. A recent survey conducted by the mental health charity MIND concluded that over 50% of adults and two thirds of young people feel that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to get up and get moving!
The link between physical activity and enhanced mental and emotional wellbeing has been well-established within the literature, demonstrating a consistent ability to reduce anxious and depressive feelings, alleviate stress and act as a key regulator of mood. Whilst the mechanisms behind this remain disputed, with explanations ranging from psychological adaptations surrounding increased self-esteem or self-efficacy to physiological adaptations looking at stress hormone responses or increased blood flow to the brain, the benefits are clear.
Many people have been led to believe that the benefits of regular physical activity can only be gained through high intensity activity, once a certain threshold has been exceeded. In truth, physical activity is multidimensional – there are multiple dimensions that we can take advantage of to gain the innumerable benefits of physical activity. Whilst it is often these more vigorous intensity activities and conventional exercise that are considered to be associated with enhanced mental health, the valuable impact of those activities lower down the continuum should not be disregarded. To benefit, you only need to exceed your current level of activity – even light intensity activity is beneficial and the benefits can be immediate! Simply by moving more throughout the day you can feel better, sleep better and have more energy.
A study by Fox and colleagues concluded that participants who moved more and sat down less experienced higher levels of mental wellbeing. They concurrently demonstrated a consistent positive relationship between total activity volume and activity of at least moderate intensity with a variety of mental wellbeing measures. Ultimately, this reinforces the point that it is not necessarily the type, duration or intensity of activity you do that is important, but instead getting up and getting moving in any way, shape or form can have a valuable impact on your mental health!
The KiActiv® Team