Research has shown that exercise both can prevent and relieve mental illness. For example, it has a positive effect on depression, on how we handle stress and can reduce and help us cope with anxiety. Something as simple as taking a walk can also enhance your ability to concentrate, your creativity, and your memory.
Physical activity has a positive impact on both our mental and physical well-being. Our bodies are built for movement and activity and there are many good reasons why it can be worth thinking about our activity and exercise habits. Physical activity is any form of movement that increases our energy consumption. It includes all types of muscle activity such as housework and gardening, walking or bicycling, outdoor activities, play, physical choirs, and exercise.
Physical activity can give you:
- Better concentration, memory and increased creativity
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases and cancer
Avoid prolonged sedentary behaviour
As a student you often spend a lot of time sitting still. Sitting still too much can have negative effects on both the body and the brain, but you can do something about it. According to one of the world's leading experts on physical activity, a half-hour walk or bike ride has great effect and an hour of exercise completely removes the risks of sitting still too much. It also helps a lot to take short breaks and move around at regular intervals during the day.
Training for depression
Physical activity has a positive effect on the brain and has shown to be as effective as medicine for mild to moderate depression. You will need to have patience as it can take up to six weeks for the effects of regular exercise to kick in. If you are depressed, you may also need a combination of exercise and other treatment such as medication and/or counselling. Therefore, it is important that you seek help so you can get the support you need.
To prevent depression and reduce anxiety, regular walks of 20-30 minutes can be enough to get some effect. The anxiety-levels decrease straight after a workout, but the effect can last for several days afterwards.
How should I be physically active?
- The important thing is not really what you do, but that you are physically active. Have in mind that all physical activity is good, even if it is only ten minutes.
- If you are not used to exercising start gently and make the progress slowly.
- Find an activity you enjoy. It increases the likelihood that you will establish a habit in the long term.
- Spend time being active outdoors. Daylight has a positive impact on your sleep.
- If you need to sit still for a long time try to take breaks and shorter walks during the day.
- Adjust your activity level to how you feel. If you are sick or feel exhausted, do not exercise intensively. Instead, focus on getting enough sleep and take slow walks.
- A general recommendation for health is to exercise at least 2.5 hours per week where your heart rate increases moderately or 1 hour and 15 minutes per week at high intensity. The activity should be spread out over several days.
If you want to train together with other students you can visit Campus 1477. They offer ball sports, both drop-in and league tournaments for student, as part of their range of training activities. Several student nations offer different physical activities such as soccer, floorball, yoga, and running groups.
Remember that exercise does not have to cost money. In Uppsala, for example, there are several outdoor gyms and running tracks that are open to the public.