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The benefits of exercise on emotional health

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

What is exercise?

Exercise involves engaging in physical activity and increasing the heart rate and your breathing rate beyond resting levels. This does not necessarily mean that you need to spend long periods of time in the gym but rather, it can be included in everyday life. For example walking to and from school, cycling, taking the stairs instead of a lift.

What is the recommended amount of exercise a person should do?

The UK government recommends that adults should aim to do 30 minutes of exercise five or more days per week and children and young people should do around 60 minutes every day.

Why is exercise important?

Exercise is an important part of preserving physical, emotional and social health. Keeping physically active can prevent major illnesses and is the basis for a healthier lifestyle. Apart from the many physical benefits, exercise has been shown to help improve emotional and social health.

What are the benefits of exercise on a person's emotional health?

  • A person may enjoy exercising as they like to focus on fitness and a hobby they enjoy. This benefits emotional health as they are doing something they enjoy.

  • Exercise can help to relieve/escape the pressures/stresses of school and family life by giving the person time to themselves. This benefits emotional health as often, at this time, they reflect on life and how to deal with issues and stresses.

  • Taking part in exercise at the gym will help to improve a young person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, making them feel good about themselves/fit and healthy, which contributes to healthy emotional health.

  • Physical activity helps to get rid of stress and aggression in a harmless way and so can help a person feel good. This benefits emotional health as the person may feel in control and content with themselves.

  • People who exercise tend to be more optimistic and happy, energised and generally in a better mood which benefits emotional health.

  • Physical activity can give a person something to aim for, provide a challenge and increase motivation and ambition, which benefits emotional health.

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