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Exercise not only has a positive impact on our physical health, but it can also increase our self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. It is a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors.


Physical activity has been shown to have a positive influence on our self-esteem and self-worth. This relationship has been found in children, adolescents, young adults, adults and older people, and across both males and females. Improvements in healthcare have led to an increasing life expectancy and a growing population of people over 65 years. Physical activity has been identified as a protective factor in studies that examined risk factors for dementia.

For people who have already developed the disease, physical activity can help to delay further decline in functioning. Physical activity can be an alternative treatment for depression. Physical activity can reduce levels of anxiety in people with mild symptoms [32] and may also be helpful for treating clinical anxiety. For more details about how physical activity can help increase wellbeing and prevent or manage mental health problems, read our full report , or get more information about how exercise can improve your mental health on our website: www.

We know all too well that that many people in the UK do not meet the current physical activity guidelines. With an average of only The Department of Health recommends that adults should aim to be active daily and complete 2. Once you have decided that you want to be more physically active, there are a few points worth thinking about.

Apart from improving your physical and mental wellbeing, what else do you want to get out of being active? Also, would you rather go it alone or do an activity with a friend? Social support is a great motivator, and sharing your experiences, goals and achievements will help you to keep focus and enthusiasm.

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It can be a bit scary making changes to your life, and most people get anxious about trying something new. Some common barriers, such as cost, injury or illness, lack of energy, fear of failure, or even the weather can hinder people from getting started; however, practical and emotional support from friends, family and experts really does help.

Body image can act as a barrier to participating in physical activity. For women, attending a female-only exercise class or a ladies-only swimming session may help to overcome anxiety as a barrier to initially starting to exercise. Exercising with a companion can also help to reduce anxiety about how your body looks to others, and may be particularly helpful during the first few exercise sessions. What time do you have available for exercise? You may need to rejig commitments to make room for extra activities, or choose something that fits into your busy schedule.

Will you need support from friends and family to complete your chosen activities, or is there a chance your active lifestyle will have an impact on others in your life? Find out how much it will cost and, if necessary, what you can do to make it affordable.

What kind of activity would suit you best? Adopting a more active lifestyle can be as simple as doing daily tasks more energetically or making small changes to your routine, such as walking up a flight of stairs. Focus on task goals, such as improving sport skills or stamina, rather than competition, and keep a record of your activity and review it to provide feedback on your progress. There are many apps and social networks accessible for free to help.

Try using a pedometer or an app on your smartphone to measure your speed and distance travelled, or add on an extra stomach crunch or swim an extra length at the end of your session. Making the regular commitment to doing physical activity is an achievement in itself, and every activity session can improve your mood.

There are lots of activities you can do without leaving your front door and that involve minimal cost. It can be as simple as pushing the mower with extra vigour, speeding up the housework, or doing an exercise DVD in the living room. Try using the stairs for journeys fewer than four floors, walking or cycling a slightly longer route home, or using your lunch hour to take a brisk walk, do an exercise class or go for a swim. The change of scenery will do you good, too.

The NHS Choices website has a number of tools to help people get started with physical activity, including exercises for older people, strength and flexibility videos, advice on taking up new sports, and advice on getting started with walking. The tools are available here: www. Outdoor gyms are gyms where some gym equipment is provided in outside spaces for people to use for free: www. Sports Med, 29 3 , — London: The Stationery Office. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. World Health Organization: Switzerland.

Walking in affective circles: Can short walks enhance affect?

Healthy Mind - Fit Body: Fitness & Weight Loss Psychology for Optimal Nutrition and Proven Results

Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23 3 , — International Journal of Sport Psychology, 31 , 47— Clinical Psychology Review, 21 1 , 33— J Prev Med Public Health, 46 1 , — The impact of exercise on the mental health and quality of life of people with severe mental illness: a critical review. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75 2 , 48— Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity.

Current Opinion in Psychiatry.

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The effect of regular aerobic exercise on positive-activated affect: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10 6 , — The Psychology of Fear and Stress 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press: New York. Job strain and leisure-time physical activity in female and male public sector employees. Preventative Medicine, 41 2 , — Does high self-esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness, or healthier lifestyles?

Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4 1 , 1— The success of any weight loss or exercise program depends on how safe it is to sustain over time. If your ultimate goal is to decrease body fat and maintain your fitness level while doing IF, you need to stay in the safe zone. Here are some expert tips to help you do just that. This is where meal timing comes into play. Khorana says that timing a meal close to a moderate- or high-intensity workout is key.

This way your body has some glycogen stores to tap into to fuel your workout. In fact, he recommends that you drink more water while fasting.

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A good low-calorie hydration source, says Sonpal, is coconut water. Gatorade and sports drinks are high in sugar, so avoid drinking too much of them. If you push yourself too hard and begin to feel dizzy or light-headed, take a break. Listening to your body is important.

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The most important advice to heed when exercising during IF is to listen to your body. While exercising and intermittent fasting may work for some people, others may not feel comfortable doing any form of exercise while fasting. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting any nutrition or exercise program.

She specializes in the mind-body connection, with a focus on how our mental and emotional well-being impact our physical fitness and health. Some people swear by working out on an empty stomach, called fasted cardio, as a quick and effective way to lose fat. Others say they're able to work…. Intermittent fasting isn't just a fad. It's a way of eating that's been in practice for centuries.

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