The Impact of Physical Activity and Sports on Mental Health


I would like to talk about my experience as an HSE professional with a Level 3 Certification from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and Safety UK and someone who has dealt with depression at various times in his life.

Man has evolved from the time of being a hunter-gatherer to a more sedimentary lifestyle, where we spend almost half our lives sleeping or sitting and if you are a city dweller with an office job, daily commute, and desk work makes that number goes up.

But our bodies were built for mobility and the more of that we have the better our minds and bodies feel.

Physical activity has been shown to have a strong and positive influence on mental well-being because you get to achieve little tasks and the benefits give you some sense of success and ownership over your situation.

Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety because one of the things depression, makes you do is just want to stay in bed or at home and do as little as possible, that inactivity leads to lying in bed all day, and insomnia at night, while if you engage in some kind of exercise, you sleep better at night.

Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.

Which you need when dealing with a mental health crisis, because at that time even the simplest of tasking like waking up, taking your bath, and dressing up seems like a mountain too high to climb but with a little exercise every day, you help to maintain your physical strength level that you need to complete these tasks, so you can still function in your daily life

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores and so you can move on to more than just daily tasks, because each task completed can be taken as a sign of success but if you are weak and feel held down, the depression only gets worse.

Getting out of bed, working with any form of exercise equipment you have, or leaving the house to take part in some form of outdoor exercise like walking, jogging, or running helps to improve your mental drive.

When the COVID-19 shutdown began, outdoor exercise was the first thing I missed about being shut in, I missed my daily evening walks but after things improved, I started again and it helped even though I could no longer take part in team weekend sports meetups.

A good walk can do wonders for my mental well-being. Because it improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood, and sleep quality and it reduced my stress, anxiety, and fatigue levels.

Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover faster as it did for me, as I increased my daily work routine, I felt better about myself and felt more in control of my life.

The Lancet Psychiatry study found that high-intensity aerobic exercise helped promote good mental health, because for me during these brief periods, I have the time to take my mind off things bothering me once I get into my exercise zone. I took the focus off my problems and concentrated on what I was trying to achieve at the moment.

During my workout routine and walks, I get to listen to upbeat music that helps to improve my mood.

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side effects, of course. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. Started by Help Guide in their article on the mental health benefits of exercise.

My advice to anyone dealing with a mental health issue is this, it’s not easy but every little step you take literally takes you on the road to recovery, the average human needs to take about 600 steps a day, to maintain good mental and physical health, that’s why even in prisons they are given yard time and the worst punishment is solitary confinement, you are meant to move around and meet people, the more of that you can push yourself to do the better you would feel at the end of the day.

 Wondering just how much activity will give you a mental health boost? It’s probably not as much as you think. You don’t need to devote hours out of your busy day to train at the gym, sweat buckets, or run mile after monotonous mile. You can reap all the physical and mental health benefits of exercise with 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Two 15-minute or even three 10-minute exercise sessions can also work just as well. From Help Guild.

I can clearly state that even before you get down in the dumps, your best bet is to have a constant exercise routine to clear those dark clouds away and keep you healthy.

OVIGHO RICHARD OKOJEVOH-CIEH.SMC.PMP. is a Scrum Master Certified, Project Management & HSE Professional, and the Executive Secretary of the Society for Health, Safety, and Environmental Education.