5 Tips to improve your mental health through exercise

As we near the end of the academic year, many of you will be undertaking exams and coursework deadlines, leading to increased levels of stress. One of the best ways to tackle stress is to keep physically active during your exams. We’ve provided some more information, plus our top five tips, to help improve your mental health with physical activity!

Studies have shown that 1 in 3 students will be affected by mental health issues at some point during their studies – but many students won’t achieve the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week.
Students can also face many barriers to accessing exercise, including lack of knowledge or awareness, and even lack of money.
We aim to break down these barriers. Not only do we provide a cost-effective membership for students, but currently we are running a campaign aimed at tackling exam stress through exercise – ‘Stressless’.
This campaign aims to highlight all the activities you can do with Sport and Recreation from 29th April – 2nd June as a form of stress relief, and most of them are free!
Taking part in moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis has been proven to be beneficial for our mental health. It also has the ability to decrease stress and alleviate symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
Exercise is also the perfect mood booster, helping your body to release endorphins – the hormones that help us feel good. The release of endorphins are also associated with improved self-confidence, social skills, and cognitive function.
We want to raise awareness of how exercise can boost your energy and mood​, and show how exercise can be an effective way to improve your mental health. We’ve highlighted below our top five tips to help improve your mental health through exercise.

1. Set Goals

Structure and routine based around exercise can give your day purpose, and something to constructively work towards. Make sure the goals you set a SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-framed. The goals you set can relate to your psychological well-being, as well as your physical.

2. Consider and keep a record log of the following questions:

  • What types of physical activity or exercise did you do?
  • How long did you exercise for?
  • How intense was it?
  • How often did you exercise in a week?
  • How did it make you feel?

Noting down the above can help you reflect back on your smaller achievements, and notice any changes in your moor or wellbeing.

3. Start Simple

Break physical activity and exercise down into its simplest forms and start from there. You don’t need to start hitting the gym each and every morning! For example, you could start riding your bike more often around where you live or work, or simply go for a walk with a family member/friend. When you’re comfortable with getting active, you can then gradually increase your level and intensity of exercise, and perhaps consider joining a sport or exercise class. 

4. Assess your Lifestyle

It’s important to assess your lifestyle and identify where physical activity and exercise can fit in. Although studying, working and relationships can take up a lot of our day, it’s important to find time to be active. Spending just 30 minutes a day exercising can yield many psychological benefits, that can help improve other aspects of your lifestyle such diet, rest and relationships. Many people find exercising in the morning is the best way of getting it done, and frees up the rest of your day. 

5. Speak to an Exercise Specialist

If you speak to any of our staff, they will have answers to any of your concerns, and give you appropriate guidance in regards to your goals. Our sports instructors will be attending the University Wednesday Wellbeing Cafe at Cafe Coco, at the following times below. Feel free to drop in and speak to us!

  • 10th May, 4pm – Mood Foods with Lee
  • 17th May, 4pm – Deep Relaxation and Meditation with Kelly


Stressless with Sport and Recreation

Suffering from exam stress? Find out about our Stressless campaign, highlighting all the activities you can do with Sport and Recreation from 29th April – 2nd June, and most of them are free!

Whilst exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety, we encourage you to seek further support should you require it. As a student here, there are many support services available to you. If you need urgent support, please visit our Stressless page for a list of University service providers who can offer support through difficult times.

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