Let’s Walk & Talk
Let’s Walk & Talk
Did you know
that physical activity and exercise aren’t quite the same thing? Where physical activity is all about moving the body, exercise is a planned, structured version. We all know the great benefits of physical activity and exercise, but why do we put it off so often? It seems that physical activity such as walking is underappreciated and exercise such as strength training has become more of a social trend or a chore, rather than something done for enjoyment and wellbeing. Have we lost the fun and enjoyment in being active? Don’t underestimate the physical, social and psychological benefits of any level of physical activity or exercise from a 5-minute walk to 30 minutes playing football or a 20-minute session lifting weights. It is important to find any form of physical activity or exercise that you enjoy! Many studies suggest that emphasising enjoyment could have positive effects on consistency1.
It’s simple, the more you enjoy it . . . the more likely you are to continue doing it.
Let’s talk facts.
Many of us may assume we do enough physical activity such as walking. But the question is, do we even know how much physical activity is recommended? It can be a bit confusing looking at all the research, so I’ve gone ahead and done this for you. Overall the research suggests between 5 – 7 days per week of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for people aged 5-17 years. One organisation that recommends this is the World Health Organisation (WHO). They suggest that the 60 minutes can be done throughout the day with activities like walking, sports, running etc, or even two 30-minute physical activity sessions.
On the other hand, for adults aged 18 -64 years it is recommended either a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week or a combination of the two intensities. Muscle strengthening activities should also be done two or more days a week and these should include major muscle groups 2.
knowing all the guidelines, are you surprised that many studies suggest that we as a population are not doing enough physical activity or exercise? An analysis of school children from 34 countries found that only 24% of boys and 15% of girls met the physical activity level recommendations3. This included physical activities such as walking and riding a bike to school. Alongside this, Sport England investigated physical activity levels in children aged 5-16 years in England. They found that 43% of children and young people lead active lives, however only 18% meet the recommendations4.
So, my question is, are you really doing enough physical activity or exercise?
Call me biased, but exercise is just amazing! Not only does it help reduce stress, it also helps promote positive psychological health1. Basically, it helps with your wellbeing; your mental, physical and social health. Generally, people who regularly do physical activity or exercise tend to show better health outcomes and reduced risks across many physical health conditions and show a better quality of life5,6,7. Essentially, the more physical activity or exercise you do, the better the health outcomes8. Being physically active has even been linked to helping in the prevention of, and coping with, mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression9. Now that’s a win-win situation, don’t you think?
Now that’s a win-win situation, don’t you think?
But let’s not forget
the social and psychological benefits that also come with being active because these benefits unfortunately are overlooked by many. Finding a form of physical activity or exercise you enjoy can help you socialise, get you out of the house and feeling much better mentally and physically. Being outdoors in the fresh air can have many positive health benefits. Being in a greenspace such as a park can help reduce stress10 and help reduce symptoms of conditions such as depression and anxiety11. And for those studying, exercise is a great stress reliever and can help with increasing concentration.
You may as well be active, stay healthy and smash those exams, coursework, work deadlines and personal goals.
Now knowing all this information, you may be wondering why so many people aren’t active. Studies suggest that it may be because people focus on the idea of forcing themselves out of bed rather than how much they’re going to enjoy the activity. This idea then leads to negative or unhelpful thoughts12. It becomes a vicious cycle Think about it, you’re not going to want to do any activity if all you’re thinking about is forcing yourself out of bed. It may also be due to finding new activities daunting
or worries about sweating in public. If you find the idea of starting a new sport, gym or any activity scary, you are not alone! As a personal trainer myself, I still find new sports or gyms quite dauting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or get a friend to start with you! The more control and support you feel you have, the more likely you are to continue with the activity you have chosen13.
Whether it be walking, yoga, gym or sports, find a form of physical activity YOU find pleasurable and start off slow; 5 minutes each day adds up and slowly you can get yourself into doing more. Physical activity helps release endorphins (happy hormones), so always remember to focus on the feeling you get after being active and use it to BUILD A HABIT. It’s not always easy to get up and start but it will feel good after.
If you would like more tips and information, we have a podcast titled Beyond The Hype, where we have an episode talking about exercise and mental health. Check it out on sound cloud and our website! We also have an Instagram where we give tips and fun facts around being active, @up_running_heron.
Fiyory is a BSc Sport, Health and Exercise science graduate and has completed an MSc Mental Health Studies. She completed her personal trainer qualification three years ago and has been using it to help herself and others gain structure and enjoyment in the gym. Fiyory conducted qualitative research looking into students’ views on transgender athletes for her BSc dissertation. She also conducted quantitative research for her MSc dissertation looking into how willing young people are to offer help for mental health problems.
Fiyory believes it is essential that we focus on young people and get them more active as this will have physical, psychological and social benefits. She is hoping to continue further education as well as working with young people, encouraging and educating more young people on the importance of taking care of their physical and mental health.