Mental Health and Wellness is one of our Bowness Vital Signs. It is made up of an individuals’ physical health as well as their mental and emotional health. This is achieved when people have access to healthy food, doctors’ offices, parks, and recreation areas as part of a whole environment where they can pursue a healthy lifestyle. With COVID-19 affecting many individuals’ mental health, we would like to share how physical activity can increase this shortfall, as well as some fun and interesting ways to go about this in Bowness.
How does stress occur in the body?
Stress occurs when the hypothalamus sends out stress hormones. These hormones are also the same ones that trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. Stress is designed to protect your body in an emergency response which prepares you to act quickly. However, when the stress response is continuous, it can put your health at risk. If this is the case, symptoms of chronic stress can occur which include: Irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia.
How does physical activity increase your mental health?
Physical activity has been proven to increase your quality of life in various aspects. Some of these aspects include: 1) Improved sleep; 2) better endurance; 3) stress relief; 4) mood improvement; 5) increased energy and stamina; 6) reduced tiredness and increased alertness; 7) weight reduction; 8) reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercises such as swimming, cycling, running, and walking have also been proven to reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. Physical activity does not have to be strenuous, time consuming tasks, even a short 10 minute brisk walk increases our mental alertness, energy, mood, and self esteem. Furthermore, it plays a role in preventing the development of mental health issues. Research studies have shown that doing physical activity as simple as doing housework after periods of inactivity has allowed individuals to feel more content, awake, calm, and have an increased mood. Regular exercise can also help you in controlling your emotions when you feel angry or upset whilst also improving your long, and short-term memory.
How does this work?
When your heart rate increases, blood flow to the brain increases. This exposes your brain to more oxygen, nutrients, and healthy nourishing proteins (neurons). When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins which are directly linked to overall mood improvement.
Options for physical activity around Bowness
- Run, walk, cycle, or swim in Bowness Park
- Take spikeball, a volleyball, or a basketball to any of the locations in Bowness
- Register for some of the available athletic programs at the Bowness Community Association
- Edworthy Park outdoor gym
- Canoe or kayak
- Boot camp
- Boxing classes
Programs with the BCA
2020 Vital Signs
Written by: Sam Morris, BCA Communications Assistant
How to look after your mental health using exercise. (2020, April 30). Mental Health Foundation. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise
Penttila, N. (2019, August 2). How does exercise affect the brain? Dana Foundation. https://www.dana.org/article/how-does-exercise-affect-the-brain/
Pietrangelo, A. (2020, March 29). The effects of stress on your body. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#Central-nervous-and-endocrine-systems
Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for Mental Health. The Primary Care Companion. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a