If you read our previous blog:  The impact of movement on mental health, you’ll know that our modern, convenience-driven world has resulted in us ‘out manoeuvering’ a key aspect of mental health: Movement.

If you are interested in the mental health benefits of movement, read on…

mental health benefits of movement

In the last few generations we have become dramatically more sedentary

Most of us have jobs that keep us stuck at a desk all day long, machines to do our heavy lifting, and phones and other gadgets that mean that can do almost anything, without moving.

This has caused a level of disconnect with our bodies, to the extent that often, we only notice our body, when something goes wrong.

The mental health benefits of movement

There are numerous mental health benefits related to movement, and we are not even referring to exercise here.  Whilst we all know intellectually that exercise is good for us, it can be viewed as a chore: another thing to fit in our day, and we aren’t always in a situation that’s conducive to doing it either.  However, the truth is that whatever our job, or lifestyle: there is always an opportunity to move our body.

When we do move our body, energy flows through it, our bodily system are activated, which makes us function well, and our brain generates various happy hormones (transmitters) that make us feel good. 

  • The first benefit is improved circulation

Just like food nourishes the body and brain – so does Movement!  

One of the many benefits of moving more is improved circulation, which in relation to the body means improved digestion and therefore improved movement of food and essential nutrients, through our gut.  This leads not just to better weight control, but also to better waste removal, not just in the body, but in the brain too: a process that helps keep our stress buckets at a manageable level.  

Movement also triggers the neurotransmitters serotonin and endorphins, as well as a specific protein called BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor) that, in addition to protecting existing brain cells, also promotes new, healthier brain cells, leading to improved brain function. 

This benefits our mental health in many ways, enhancing our ability to taking in new information, retain and recall that information, and also our confidence to apply it.

  • The second benefit is improved metabolism

Our metabolism, which regulates our blood sugar, blood pressure and our ability to break down body fat, is affected by movement.  Studies have linked excessive sitting with both obesity and type 2 diabetes and research has also suggested that being ‘active’ for 60 mins a day can offset the negative effects of sitting too much.   This ‘activity’ can be all sorts of activity, that, when combined, adds up to 60 minutes, so it’s not just about getting to a gym.

  • The third benefit is improved clarity

Movement helps with mental clarity, as well as concentration and memory.  If you have ever gone out for a walk to ‘clear your head’, you’ll intuitively know this. When our body moves, so does our brain, which promotes the production of BDNF, which as we now know, aids cognitive function.  In fact, one study showed that walking in particular, boosted creative ideation in both real time and shortly after.

  • The fourth benefit is improved mood

Movement positively impacts our mood and many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Again, this is linked to the production of serotonin and endorphins, both of which make us feel good , but it’s also linked to the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, that occurs when we move.  And of course, when we feel good, we are more likely to feel inclined to do things that involve movement.

  • The fifth is benefit improved resilience

Ultimately, movement increases our resilience as a result of the four previous benefits.  It can also help take our mind off our worries and it can help to promote a sense of well-being, making us feel both physically and emotionally stronger, enabling us to ‘handle’ more in our lives.

In summary

It’s important to make movement a part of our every day lives, because the benefits of moving more are so vast.  Movement fuels our energy, enhances our organ health, aids our circulation and balances our sugar levels.  It increases our resilience to stress, improves our sleep and enhances our mood.  It even drives our social interaction, and in fact, there’s lots of research that suggests that we get even more benefits when we move as a tribe.

Would you or your team, benefit from learning more about the impact of physical activity on mental wellbeing and resilience?

Our two hour course, Physical Activity for enhanced Resilience, explores this topic further, looking at the importance of physical activity for our wellbeing and the impact it has on our mental health.

The course also provides participants with the tools and knowledge to review their own physical activity status and habits, and create a plan to confidently improvement their level of physical activity and to enhance their personal resilience and performance. 

Physical Activity for
enhanced resilience

Resilience Awareness Training


To find out how we can support you with raising mental health awareness in your organisation, or to discuss your requirements, get in touch.

Visit the HSE website for current news about mental health.

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