The old Latins used to say 'Mens Sana in Corpore Sano' to signify the importance of physical exercise for mental and psychological wellbeing. To this end, Youmanity launched 'Pump it Up', a campaign to encourage society to engage in any kind of physical exercise to help stay fit, mentally and physically. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking can improve our mood, increase mental alertness, with bursts of feel-good-energy.
According the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), regular physical activity can even increase our self-esteem, reduce both stress and anxiety. Regular exercising also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health issues and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.
Impact on our mood
A study by the MHF asked people to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity (e.g. going for a walk or doing housework), and periods of inactivity (e.g. reading a book or watching television). Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity.
Impact on our stress
When events make us feel threatened, our body's defences cut in and create a stress response, which may make us feel a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms and make us behave differently. The most common physical signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, and loss of appetite. Research found that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress rates than less active individuals.
Impact on our self-esteem
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. Physical activity has been shown to positively influence our self-esteem and self-worth.
Impact on depression and anxiety
Physical activity can be an excellent alternative treatment for depression. Exercising does not carry the stigma attached to taking antidepressants or attending psychotherapy and counselling (there should be NO stigma anyway!). Physical activity can reduce anxiety levels in people with mild symptoms and may also help treat clinical anxiety. Physical activity may not cost much and can be an empowering approach generated by self-management.
All of the images used to promote the Pump it Up campaign have been produced by celebrated photographer Eran Ucar - a generous supporter of our charity since 2010. Erhan's work exploring a wide rage of topics can be found by clicking here.
Read more about on the Mental Health Foundation's work on how how physical activity can help increase well-being by clicking here