6 Physical Activities that Improve Mental Health

The list is endless for the many benefits of exercise to our physical health. An increase in energy, healthy heart, maintenance of blood sugar and insulin levels, improved joints and bones and weight control are just a few of the physical improvements you gain when you exercise.

Exercise is a type of physical activity with plans and structures to condition the body and maintain fitness. There is a recommended amount of exercise for any age range to get the most benefit from it. Adults are advised to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of activity with vigorous intensity in a week.

One of ways that physical activities contribute to improving mental health is the release of chemicals called endorphins to the brain, which improves the mood and helps deal with stress. They trigger those positive feelings we feel after a run or a workout. Endorphins are like analgesics or natural painkillers. They diminish our perception of pain. Exercising regularly helps the mental health by proving effective in improving sleeping habits, reducing the risk of depression and boosting self-esteem.

Below are moderate-intensity activities that can help for better management of mood, behaviors, perception and thinking.

1. Leisure biking

Biking is a popular cardio exercise. It strengthens your legs, hips and glutes. This is a workout that is gentle on the knees and ankles. Biking is an ideal outdoor workout even for beginners. If you prefer doing exercises at home, indoor biking can be an option. Working out in a stationary bike can burn 400 calories in an hour. It is best to get on your bike 30-60 minutes, 3 to 5 times in a week.

2. Dancing

Dancing is a fun whole body workout. It improves muscle strength and definition and it can help with balance and coordination. Dancing is a great mood-boosting activity as there are many variety of dances. One can work out to hiphop, jazz, ballet and ballroom dance moves. With endless music to choose from, this activity is a difficult one to get bored from.

3. Walking

Walking is the simplest way to get active. It is often overlooked but daily walks has a lot of benefits to the body. You can lose weight and improve your stamina with 10-minute daily walks. It can sometimes get repetitive but you can make changes to your routine to make walking more fun. Walking to work, using the stairs and strolling with the kids are simple dopamine-inducing exercises.

4. Gardening

Gardening may be a less strenuous activity but a 30-45 minute yard work can burn 300 calories. If you treat gardening like any other workout, you will burn more calories while raking, digging holes, pruning, lifting bags of mulch and pushing the lawn mower. Gardening is a great family activity so you are collectively improving your mental health when you get in the dirt and work.

Vigorous-intensity activities

5. Jogging, Running

Jogging and running are both forms of aerobic exercise. Their difference is in intensity. Running is faster and demands more effort from the heart, lungs and muscles. Jogging, on the other hand, is like an increased intensity version of walking. Both are activities that have competitive events so many people jog or run around with peers. Working out with a lot of people can often improve mood as you joke around and converse with them.

6. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent workout because you move your whole body against the resistance of the water. It builds endurance, muscle strength and healthy heart and lungs. Swimming is also a great way to make friends. You swim on pools, beaches, lakes and rivers. It is an activity for all age groups and it is a pleasant way to cool down during hot days. Competitive swimming provides a vigorous workout and it also brings out the fun of being involved in a competition.

There are so many physical activities you can do to improve your overall mental health. Trapeze, jiujitsu, ballet, contemporary dance, parkour and rock climbing are some examples for the younger generation that can be experienced with friends and peers. Even thirty minutes of brisk walking for three days can be sufficient for your weekly dose of exercise.

It is always scary to try new things and make changes to your lifestyle. Some people get anxious when they start running outdoors or meet new people by the beach. The goal is always progress and not perfection. Add one physical activity to your daily routine and you will slowly see the benefits to your mental wellbeing.

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