Physical Activity for Better Mental Health and Stronger Immunity
Being physically active for overall health and wellbeing is important in everyone’s lives. Establishing and maintaining ways to keep your body moving should be a high priority during times of stress, anxiety and depression to support your mental health and immunity.
Research shows that physical activity releases serotonin which is the feel good hormone naturally produced by your body. Getting a daily dose of exercise will help to ease the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety, fear, anger and grief that you may be experiencing in relation to a stressful life event.
Being active reduces your risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. It also strengthens your muscles and bones, helps to maintain body weight and can reduce symptoms of depression.
Australia’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (aged 18-65 years) recommends that adults be active on most, preferably all, days of the week. Adults should accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. Included in this time, adults should do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
Whether you wish to start becoming more active or need to increase the frequency or intensity of your workouts, there are many free and accessible ways to move your body every day. If you are unemployed or studying/working from home, you may have more time in your day to devote to your health than other people who spend 1-2 hours per day commuting to and from their workplace. If you are a parent of young children, you have an opportunity to create healthy habits together.
If you’re more motivated to exercise with other people you can invite a family member or friend to be your fitness buddy. Other options are to explore on-line sources of guided exercises classes or simply venture out to your local park/river/beach where you will feel a sense of comaraderie with like-minded people out for their daily dose of physical activity.
Physical activity is an essential component of self care for a healthy body and positive mind.
Set your own goals which are unique to your ability level, personal circumstances and lifestyle.
Connect your goals to your own set of values and beliefs to remain focussed on your outcomes.
Schedule time into your daily or weekly calendar and stay committed to your routine, with flexibility.
Identify and address any barriers to your physical activity goals and ask for support when needed.
Ways to be physically active
In The Home
Do active chores, such as washing the car, vacuuming, and gardening.
Follow You Tube or subscribe for on-line classes, such as Yoga, Zumba or Cross Fit
Groove along with your kids to Just Dance routines on You-Tube
Do yoga or stretches while watching TV or talking on the telephone
Set up an exercise circuit in your backyard with steps, skipping rope, 2L milk bottles filled with water as weights etc
If you have a trampoline, get on and jump, star jump or jog on the spot.
Walk laps around the house, or set up a treasure hunt for your children to find objects in different rooms to get them moving.
If you have an activity tracker, set up a challenge with your family/friends/work colleagues to see who can get the most steps in a day
Walk or cycle to work. If it’s too far, drive half way and walk or cycle the rest of the way.
Take public transport and get off the bus or train early and walk.
Schedule walk and talk meetings, or at least stand for some of the time.
Park your car further away from your destination and walk.
Take the stairs at every opportunity.
Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Walk to deliver a message, rather than using email.
Print documents to the furthest printer.
Take a walk outside during your lunch break.
In Your Neighbourhood
Go for a walk or bike ride around your neighbourhood
Walk or cycle to the shops or post box
Organise an active family outing such as bush walking or swimming at the beach
Take a picnic lunch or dinner to your local park with your children. Include some sports equipment such as a football, frisbee or soccer ball.
Take your dog for a walk.
Have a dance party in your street with your neighbours