Exercise and mental health: 5 Top tips from RGU SPORT

Applied Sport and Exercise Science student Lea is doing her placement with RGU SPORT. She writes about the benefits of exercise on mental health and how you can get started if you are a beginner.

Do you ever find yourself thinking that you don’t have time to exercise or go for a walk? Right now it can seem like all you do is work. There are no distractions like holidays or events, and no restaurants to go to. However this time, might just be the perfect time to start introducing some healthy habits that will last long after the pandemic.

Did you know that exercise is also beneficial for our mental wellbeing as well as our physical wellbeing?

Physical activity and exercise release feel good chemicals in your brain called endorphins, these can help with the following:

  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Increasing energy
  • Improving your mood
  • Increasing sleep quality
  • Reducing stress, anxiety and depression
  • Creating a routine
  • Increasing productivity

Starting to exercise may be the biggest hurdle but here are some tips on how to get started:

  1. Start small: If you are a beginner, the idea of exercising can be very overwhelming at first. This is why it is important to start small. Set short term goals every week and focus on fulfilling them.

2. Plan your exercise: Set some time for exercise in your schedule. Plan your exercise routine for the week. For example, you could decide to go for a daily walk and then do some form of cardio each week. You can then start to build it up by incorporating strength training sessions.

3. Do activities you enjoy: It is important to follow an exercise regime that you enjoy. If you enjoy it, then chances that you will stick to it. This could be anything starting from evening walks, some Zumba dancing or even learning a new hobby like martial arts or kickboxing.

4. Do it with a friend: The current Scottish COVID restrictions do allow two people from two households to meet for sport, exercise or interaction while following social distancing measures. The weather has been great this last week, so why not meet up with a friend for a walk down by the River Dee or some yoga at the park? If meeting is not an option for you and your friends, you could take up an online group exercise class together. RGU SPORT offers a variety of group exercise classes on Zoom. If you are an RGU student, you can even get a free membership until the end of this semester.

5. Reward yourself: Rewarding yourself after reaching your small goals is so important. Looking forward to the reward will help you stick to your routine and help make your workouts a more gratifying experience.

Other ways to be a bit more active whilst at home are setting alarms every so often to stand up and stretch, washing your car and using the furthest toilet away from your workspace (if possible).

RGU SPORT are encouraging everyone to be active by joining their Strava group and taking part in their physical activity challenges, like going on a daily mile. This is a great way to get out for some fresh air, boost your mood and see friends socially distanced.

RGU SPORT have a range of resources available on their Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Active webpage under the mental health and wellbeing working from home section.

Lea

If you are struggling and need to speak to someone then please reach out to RGU’s counselling and wellbeing team. The Student Counselling & Wellbeing Centre has Counsellors and a Student Wellbeing Advisor who can talk over issues that may be concerning you. We also provide online mental health self-help programmes 24/7 through our Silvercloud platform to help with Anxiety, Stress, Depression and Body Image.

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