We are working with Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust as the North London Mental Health Partnership.

Being active

Exercise plays an important role mentally as well as physically. Not only can it reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes it can help maintain a healthy mind by reducing depression and enhancing self-esteem.

Regular exercise is also effective for reducing general anxiety and overcoming a predisposition to panic attacks. Panic attacks occur when the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” reaction - the sudden surge of adrenaline you experience in response to threat - become excessive or occur out of context. Exercise is beneficial because it has a direct impact on several physiological factors that underlie anxiety and stress. It brings about:

  • Reduced skeletal muscle tension which is responsible for feelings of being tense and uptight
  • More rapid metabolism of adrenaline in the bloodstream.  normally keeps you in a state of high arousal
  • A discharge of pent-up frustration
  • Stimulation of the production of endorphins, natural morphine like chemicals that make us feel calm and contented
  •  Improved digestion and utilisation of food
  • Improved blood sugar regulation
  • Several psychological benefits accompany these physical improvements including:
  • Increased feelings of well being
  • Reduced dependence on alcohol or drugs
  • Reduced insomnia
  •  Improved concentration and memory
  • Reduced depression
  • Increased self-esteem
  • A greater sense of control over anxiety

How to get started

Luckily you do not have to train like an Olympic athlete or join an expensive gym to benefit from exercise. If you haven’t been exercising at all, before now, it is important not to start off too fast/hard. Doing so might result in “burning out” or an injury. The following guidelines are recommended for getting started:

  • Approach exercise gradually and set limited goals for example, 10 minutes a day on alternate days for the first week adding five minutes each successive week until you meet 30 minutes
  • Give yourself a one-month trial period where you make a commitment to stick with your exercise program. By the end of the first month you should have experienced sufficient benefits to be self-motivated enough to stick with it
  • Keep a record of your daily exercise regime. If you fail to exercise give a reason as this may be of use later when re-evaluating your progress
  • Expect some initial discomfort. Aches and pains are normal to start with but you can expect discomfort to pass
  • Ensure that you warm-up before exercising and that you cool-down after exercising by finishing your exercise by walking and stretching
  • Reward yourself
  • Stop if you experience any sudden, unexplained bodily symptoms

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