Regular physical activity is well known for providing benefits to your physical health, such as increasing muscle strength or aerobic endurance. But being physically active can also benefit both children's and adults' mental health enormously. Studies have found that up to 12% of depression cases in adults could have been prevented by as little as 60 minutes of exercise a week.
Most modes of physical activity such as swimming, walking the dog, jogging to music, riding a bike, gardening, bushwalking, yoga and weight-lifting are all beneficial for improved mental well-being. Some research shows completing activities in outdoor environments and in “green” settings can have greater positive effects on our mood and mental well-being. Even breaking up long periods of sitting by a short walk in your office or outside, or even a quick stretch break, can help reduce feelings of anxiety.
For both children and adults, regular physical activity can help to:
- Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improved self-esteem and self-worth
- Improve ability to manage stress
- Improved energy, focus and sleep
- Improved social skills, relationships and a more positive body image
Like always, completing any amount of physical activity is better than none. However, the Australian guidelines recommend completing a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity for both physical and mental health benefits.