October is Mental Health Awareness Month

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October is Mental Health Awareness Month.

There are many reasons why people engage in physical activity. Exercise is important for a healthy heart and it improves your muscles, joints and bones, but a lot of people do not realise that physical activity is also beneficial for your mental health. As October is Mental Health Awareness Month, let us look at a few mental health benefits of regular exercise:
1. Regular exercise helps to relax tense muscles and relieve tension in the body. When your body feels better, so too will your mind. Physical activity can boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
2. Physical activity releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and can even alleviate symptoms in people diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
3. Regular exercise can help you sleep better. Even exercise during the day can help regulate sleeping patterns. At night relaxing exercises such as yoga or stretching exercises can help promote sleep.
4. Physical fitness can improve your self-esteem, as it elevates a person’s perception of his/her self-worth. Meeting even small exercise goals can give you a sense of achievement.
5. Regular exercise can improve memory and the ability to learn new things, and even prevent cognitive decline. Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.
6. Physical exercise can help you cope in a healthy way when faced with mental or emotional challenges, instead of resorting to unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
Physical activity does not necessarily have to take place in a gym, it can include recreational or leisure-time activity. Even everyday activities such as walking to the bus stop, climbing stairs instead of using a lift, or playing outside with your children, can add up to the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Several practical hints to make exercise part of your daily life can be found at http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/physical-activity.
Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!
*This article was written by Sr Mary Purcell from Bloemcare