Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, has been awarded the title of ‘the most depressing day of the year’. The post-Christmas comedown and people giving up on their New Year’s resolutions being two of the main causes.
If your New Year’s resolution focuses on taking up exercise for weight loss this year, why not take a moment to think about how being physically active affects different aspects of your life and the way you feel.
Loughborough University and NCSEM-EM experts, Dr Florence Kinnafick and Dr Anthony Papathomas, are encouraging people to focus on the positive health and wellbeing benefits of resolutions to be more active – rather than the number on a set of scales.
Taking part in regular physical activity has been shown to have a range of benefits to people’s everyday lives. Stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation can be reduced. Engaging in physical activity can provide time away and a distraction from negative or stressful aspects of life, acting as a diversion from negative thoughts. Being physically active with others can also lead to better social interaction with peers and reduce feelings of isolation.
Taking part in regular physical activity has been shown to have a range of benefits to people’s everyday lives.
Self-perceptions can be improved through physical activity which can help improve body image and self-esteem. People get the ‘feel-better’ effect that comes with mastering new tasks and perceive a greater sense of personal control. Evidence suggests that being physically active can improve energy levels.
An important index of wellbeing is sleep quality and there is a large body of evidence showing that physical activity is beneficial for improving sleep quality.
Doing something is better than doing nothing, so keep going. Keep a diary of how you feel during and after exercise, focusing on both your fitness and mental wellbeing. Mapping these changes over time will highlight how far you’ve come and inspire you to keep going!
Dr Florence Kinnafick is a Lecturer in Psychology and Dr Anthony Papathomas is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University.