Exercise you say? Yes, we do say! Exercise, however large or small, can make a huge impact to how you feel. Not only will it help your physical health, getting you fit (or fitter at least) will also benefit your mental health.
Gentle exercise, like a brief walk around the town, a quick bike ride around the park, some housework (yes housework, come on lads, it's the 21st century) or something more strenuous will be enough to get your blood pumping, lift your mood and make you feel better. It can also boost your self-esteem, help you concentrate for longer and you'll look better too.
We know that some medication has a side-effect that makes you feel tired quite a lot of the time, but exercise doesn't have to be THAT physically demanding to useful. How? I'm glad you asked.
HOW DOES EXERCISE HELP?
If you're feeling on a high, exercise is brilliant for working off, and using up, some of that excess energy you have. Exercise releases a chemical called endorphins. These cheeky little blighters are one of those things often referred to as 'feel-good' chemicals. They might sound like witchcraft, but they are very real.
If your most physical activity during the course of a normal day is lifting your tea cup to your mouth and down again, then you might need to get out more.
If you're between 19 and 64 (and you probably are), you should aim to do AT LEAST 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days a week. You can have the weekends off as a treat for all that tea drinking. If you're up to it and want to push yourself a little further, then you can do a little less exercise as it will be more vigorous. Aim for about 75 minutes a week for that.
That might sound like a lot, but it doesn't have to be done all in one go and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Try things like:
Using the stairs rather the lift (when going up, not just down!).
Get off the bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way (might save you a little money too).
Enrolling in a local sports club. Whatever the sport, chances are there will be one close by and you may even meet some new friends.
Walking a little faster than normal.
Taking the bike on shorter journeys, rather than driving.
As we said, you don't need to start running marathons or competing in Iron Man tournaments for it to count as exercise. If going outside is a problem, there are so many exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home including yoga, stair climbing (unless you're in a bungalow, then that might be a little harder), vertical pushups, squats, etc.
If you're a little 'heavier' than you should be (and live in the UK) you may be able to enrol on some healthy eating / weight loss schemes. Many councils run such schemes aimed at getting your weight down and educating you on health eating. These are sometimes referred to as 'Exercise on Prescription'. Please speak to your GP to see if something like that is available in your area.
If you'd like to share how exercise has helped your mental health with the rest of our community, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.