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Mental health and exercise

There are many reports that recommend moderate exercise to improve our mood. So how much is enough, what is considered moderate exercise, and why does it work?

3o minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week is recommended. This can be split into smaller chunks of time if that suits you better and can be increased gradually up to this target. Moderate exercise is something that gets your heart pumping a little faster but should not leave you completely breathless.

You should always consult your GP before embarking on any new exercise regime, especially if you are not usually active. Some suggestions of what moderate activity might be include walking, gardening, DIY, swimming. The most important thing is that it is something you enjoy, rather than something you feel you must do.  It can also help to do something with other people where possible.

Although no-one is quite certain why exercise is good for our mental health, some theories link it to the production of certain chemicals (dopamine & serotonin) which improve the communication between our brain cells, and other chemicals (brain derived neurotrophic factors) which help our brain cells grow and develop. The production of these chemicals affect our thinking and therefore our mood.  

For more information, you can download the free Mental Health Foundation booklet on How to look after you mental health using exercise by clicking on this link Look after your mental health with exercise