Physical exercise can mean lots of different things. It doesn't have to be running a marathon or being a part of a large sports team. In fact, it’s really important to make sure you choose an activity that you feel comfortable and safe doing. This could be anything from swimming, walking around the block or completing household activities like hoovering or cleaning.
There is no one way to exercise; dancing to your favourite song can be as beneficial from a mental health perspective as lifting weights or swimming. It's about what you can manage. The benefits of exercise include a lower resting heart rate and the release of endorphins, which have a positive impact on mood; so regular exercise can improve your mood and wellbeing. Exercise doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg or even necessarily use an arm or a leg! It's just about moving in the way that best suits you.
If you want to take this leap, you could try the free ‘couch to 5k’ app by the NHS, or, alternatively, the NHS has a list of free exercises for you to try out. The Mix also have some good tips for getting fit alongside advice for those who may have ongoing health problems or limited mobility.
In the following video, mental health campaigner Hope Virgo speaks about how she uses running as a form of self-care and gives advice regarding exercising healthily especially for those who may have or are recovering from an eating disorder. Hope has also written a blog on her relationship with running and how she now uses running in her self-care which you can read here. Young Champion, Juliette, has also written a blog about how running helped manage her anxiety which you can read here.
What young people have told us:
'You don't need to be an athlete to do some exercise. Little walks or short physical activities can work just as well!'
'You can release any stress, anger or tension you have! Doing exercise is also refreshing and gives you time away from work, your phone or staying in doing nothing all day. Being active can help your mind and body to feel better!'
'Jogging is a great time for reflection. Weights are a good way to tire out your negative energy.'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.