Power of movement: swimming to relieve stress, walking for mental blocks, dancing to eliminate anxiety

“Moving our body in any form every day can improve our mood and help increase our mobility and mental well-being.”

LONDON – Is physical activity the key to a stronger mind? Two in three people think it might be, according to a recent poll, and health experts agree. In fact, relieving stress can be as simple as swimming a few lengths, while walking might be the best medicine for clearing a mental block.

British TV personality and doctor, Dr Zoe Williams, claims that various movements can improve certain moods. She advises taking some fresh air while walking if you feel stuck or unmotivated while working to give yourself a boost. This is because walking helps your heart beat faster, supplying fresh oxygenated blood to your brain, allowing you to think better and concentrate.

Meanwhile, the methodical motion of swimming gives you something to focus on, helping to lower stress levels, as well as releasing cortisol, which can help manage stress. And dancing can be used to soothe feelings of worry or anxiety, as physical activity can release endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which make you feel happy.

The advice comes from a survey of 3,000 UK adults, including 1,000 with a long-term health condition. The results show that 67% of those who engage in some form of physical activity say it improves their mood. A third of respondents feel their mood is lower if they don’t move or exercise as much as they usually would, with mental well-being being the most important factor for 18% when choosing physical activity.

Overall, 29% agree that some form of physical activity makes them “calmer” later.

“Even the smallest of movements can make you happier and healthier”

For those with a long-term health condition, 38% agree that some form of physical activity thinks it helps their wellbeing. In fact, almost a quarter (23%) say the impact it has on their mental health is their main reason for being more active in the first place. Conversely, not moving as much as they would like causes 45% of people with health conditions to feel depressed, compared to 27% of those without the condition.

“It can sometimes be frustrating if we don’t move our bodies for a long time,” says Dr Williams, who works with UK health campaign We Are Undefeatable, which commissioned the research. “But even the smallest movements like walking or stretching can make you happier and healthier. Moving our bodies in any form every day can improve our mood and help increase our mobility and mental well-being. .

The study also reveals that 42% of adults without health problems are active more than five days a week, for about 43 minutes at a time. But for those with chronic conditions, that drops to 25%, for 35 minutes at a time. Seven in 10 adults admit they feel guilty (69%) when they don’t move as much as usual, with that number rising to 76% of those with a long-term health condition.

Not exercising can also make these pains worse.

It also emerged that a third felt disappointed if he got to the end of the day and hadn’t exercised as much as he had hoped. Not exercising even makes people feel worse physically, with 18% saying they struggle with stiffness and soreness from lack of movement.

Almost six in 10 people (58%) believe they already do as much physical activity as they can, rising to 75% of people with a health condition. Some of the most popular activities, among all respondents, include walking (53%), team sports (20%) and swimming (18%).

The survey also shows that 51% of adults exercise alone, with 45% of them noting that they find calm by being alone with their thoughts. However, “gymtimidation” can be a problem for others. Twenty-two percent fear being judged by others and 20% fear not being “fit enough” to join those who are fitter than themselves.

And of those with a health condition who enjoy being active solo, 28% say their condition makes them self-conscious. As a result, 52% of respondents who are active exercise at home, according to the study conducted via OnePoll.

“It’s so great to see from the research that everyone, including those living with a disease or health condition, can get an uplifting boost from physical activity, no matter how small they are. “, says Michelle Roberts, of the program of physical activity and health. head of the Richmond Group of Charities behind We Are Undefeatable. “We want to encourage everyone to find the moves that suit their mood and provide inspiration for those who don’t know where or how to start.”

Dr. Williams also offers some helpful tips for improving mood through exercise:

  • No matter how you feel each day, there’s a move you can make to tune your energy level and improve your mood. Wanting to be physically active every day – however you want to move – can help us feel happier and healthier and, over time, could allow you to increase the time you spend to be physically active.
  • When you wake up energized, a brisk walk is a great way to get your body moving. For days that start slower, a walk can help get your body moving and clear your mind. Walking is an excellent low-impact cardio exercise that allows you to improve your physical condition while being gentle on your joints.
  • If you’re feeling stressed, you can try swimming for a calm, focused activity that’s great for your body and mind. The swim move can also be done while sitting on your couch or at your desk, for an easy way to incorporate movement into your day when you can’t make it to the pool.
  • If you’re feeling worried or anxious, aerobic activities like dancing can be a great way to relieve tension and get your heart rate up in a positive way. Physical activity releases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which trigger positive feelings in your brain that can make you feel less stressed and anxious.
  • When you have a mental block or are feeling unmotivated, getting some fresh air and moving your body outdoors is a great way to clear your mind. This movement outside can be a daily task like bringing groceries from the store, going for a walk with your dog or even gardening.
  • If you come to the end of the day and find that you haven’t moved as much as you could have, you can do some simple stretches and yoga moves before bed to help you relax and rest easily. .


1. Walk
2. Stretches
3. Cleaning
4. Gardening
5. Team sports, i.e. football, tennis, etc.
6. Swimming
7. Run
8. Squats
9. Sit to stand
10. Jogging outside

72Point writer Mustafa Mirreh contributed to this report.

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