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Research shows that exercise influences the
release and uptake of chemicals in your brain
that make you feel good. Staying active can lift
your mood, reduce stress, help you deal with
negative emotions and even help with anxiety
and reduce the risk of depression and dementia.
Even though the benefits of physical activity
for reducing obesity and preventing chronic
illnesses have been very well publicised, this has
resulted in relatively little increased uptake of
physical activity, with national surveys showing
only one-third of the population meet UK
physical activity guidelines.
The aim of our campaign is to change the way
we view physical activity in the UK: to see it not
as something we ‘have to do’, ‘should do’ or
‘ought to do’ for our health but as something
which we do because we personally value its
positive benefits to our wellbeing.
As part of our work to help the nation lead
mentally healthy lives, we have produced this
pocket guide to show the positive impact that
physical activity can have on your own mental
wellbeing, including some tips and suggestions
to help you get started.
Being active doesn’t have to mean going to the
gym, taking up jogging or wearing lycra. There
are lots of ways to be active, find the one that
works for you and let’s all get physical!
It is exercise alone that supports the
spirits, and keep the mind in vigor’
Marcus Tullius Cicero
What is physical activity?
At a very basic level, physical
activity just means any movement
of your body that uses your
muscles and expends energy. One
of the great things about physical
activity is that there are endless
possibilities and there will be an
activity to suit almost everyone!
An easy way to look at types of physical activity is
to put them in four separate categories:
Daily Physical Activity
Everyday things such as
walking to the bus stop or
Purposeful activity carried
out to improve health or
fitness, such as jogging
or cycling, or lifting weights
to increase strength
that is done for fun
anything from football
to squash to cricket
All these activities can vary in intensity. Moderate
intensive activities include brisk walking or
dancing. Vigorous intensity needs more effort
and causes your heart rate and breathing rate to
increase, like running or football. You will be able
to tell when your activity is vigorous as it will be
difficult to hold a conversation without pausing
to breathe after every few words.