Five forms of exercise to support your mental health

Have you plans to get active today? You may already know the benefits of physical activity for the body but do you know how it can improve your mental health?

Any form of physical activity has a variety of benefits for the mind. Working out triggers the release of chemicals such as endorphins which boost mood. This explains why you are unlikely to regret a workout afterwards. The body may also feel more relaxed after muscles have been stretched. Other benefits include increased self-esteem as a result of learning a new skill and meeting new people.

Check out the activities below to see how they could give your body and mind a boost. Consult a doctor if you need help finding the best form of exercise for you.

1. Yoga

Lady and man doing yoga

A low-impact form of exercise, you might assume yoga is an 'easier' option when it comes to physical activity. However, it provides plenty of different challenges depending on the type you choose to practise. Vinyasa and Ashtanga include more physically demanding postures whereas Hatha and Yin take a slower pace but involve holding poses for longer periods.

Regular yoga practice improves strength and flexibility. Whichever form of yoga you choose, the focus on the breath is a key element. Learning to breathe 'fully' and deeply has many benefits for the mind including lowering cortisol, a stress hormone, which can be particularly high in those suffering from anxiety and depression. Yoga practice also offers an opportunity for mindfulness or focusing the mind on 'being present'. As you carefully perform each movement, there is little time to think of other things. Many other activities involve elements of mindfulness. Why not have a go at Pilates or martial arts?

2. Swimming

Lady doing aquaaerobics

Ever wondered why swimming feels so therapeutic? It's partly down to water buoyancy. When your body is in water, the pressure is taken off your joints. The water provides resistance, meaning you can exercise whilst being supported. This is why swimming can be a particularly good form of exercise for those who find high-impact exercise challenging.

As a swimmer, you also have the option of what you do in the pool - you could maximise the cardio benefits by swimming lengths or take a more relaxed approach to enjoying the water and the mood-boosting benefits. Aqua aerobics is another option. If you've never learnt how to swim, check out local leisure centres which often provide lessons for all ages and abilities.

3. Short bursts of any physical activity

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Jonny and Yasmin

It doesn't matter what form of physical activity you undertake or for how long, there will still be benefits for the mind and body. Did you know that children and adults spend the majority of their waking hours sitting down? If life feels too busy to fit in a long session of physical activity, why not split it up into short bursts?

Super Movers provides a variety of fun, educational routines for children to fit in to their school day - it only takes a few minutes! Everyone can get active with a Just for Fun routine with stars such Jonny Nelson, Yasmin Evans, HomeBros, Susannah Constantine, Miles Jupp or Les Dennis. The advantage to carrying out short bursts of physical activity over the course of the day is the repeated boosts in mood and concentration afterwards!

4. Walking or running

Man and woman walking through forest in autumn

There are lots of positives to walking or running in the gym if you prefer to be indoors. However, being outside in nature has been shown to reduce stress and help people feel more relaxed. If you don't fancy exercising outside, you could reap some of the same benefits by gardening. Being outside has also been found to have benefits if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

5. Football

Football players sitting down chatting

Football or any other team sport provides the opportunity to build social skills which in turn can improve self-esteem and confidence. Exercising with others is a fun challenge and also helps you to turn exercise into a habit - your team can't play without you! If football isn't your thing, why not think about rowing or cricket or just about any other team sport?

Super Movers aims to get children moving throughout the day with lots of free, easy-to-use video resources and great football-inspired incentives like a visit from the Premier League Trophy. Brain Booster routines star famous faces and cover key areas of Numeracy and Literacy. They can be used in the classroom or at home to help children feel refreshed and energised whilst learning. The Just for Fun routines help get the whole family active together. Why not have a go?