10 Activities That Can Protect Your Mental and Physical Health
Exercise should be as natural as going to the grocery store. It can improve sleep, cardiovascular health, lower stress levels, and bring many other good things that can protect your mental and physical health. There’s more to it than weight loss and toning your body — it’s a way to improve your well-being.
However, exercise is more than going to the gym or jumping to a training video at home. The key to enjoying all its benefits is to find the activity that fulfills your body and mind. So, here are activities to pick from that will give you both!
1. Walking whenever you get the chance
Walking is an activity for everyone — regardless of age, gender, or fitness level. Basically, all you need is proper walking shoes and comfortable clothes, but even that is not necessary. However, the faster you walk the more calories you will burn so if weight management is your goal, you should pick up the pace.
According to an Australian study, walking can decrease the chances of developing cardiovascular disease by 19%. One of the benefits of walking is that it can calm you down and clear your head, helping creative and problem-solving processes to come up with new ideas.
2. Meditating with a special breathing technique
Meditation can help you reduce stress, improve sleep patterns, teach you to appreciate your well-being, and adopt positive habits. It may seem like it has nothing to do with physical health, but the truth is it can affect it a lot. Increased levels of stress hormone cortisol are known to cause high blood pressure, fatigue, inflammation, and other physical health problems.
Often, meditation includes sitting up straight and using a special breathing technique to lower anxiety and invoke deep relaxation. While it may not be for everyone, meditation is something you should try until you are sure you need something more active.
3. Doing yoga in your living room
Yoga is perfect for anywhere really. You need enough space to place your mat and you can start practicing various poses. It ranges in difficulty levels, but even beginner yoga can bring benefits to the body and mind, like reducing stress and muscle relaxation. A 2005 study showed that yoga is also good for treating symptoms of osteoarthritis, like pain and physical disability of the knee.
Practicing yoga in the morning before work is beneficial for productivity, flexibility, and blood pressure. Especially in the elderly population or those who suffer from depression, yoga can improve the quality of life by improving mood, sleep, and overall well-being.
4. Running around the neighborhood
If you run for only 10 minutes daily you can experience health benefits, states a 2017 study. However, even at a moderate pace, running is a high-impact activity so overdoing it may have an adverse effect, like muscle injuries. It’s also a cardio exercise, meaning it’s good for weight loss, boost the immune system, strengthen your heart, and reduce depression.
When compared to walking, which is also a cardio exercise, running burns more calories. If you are new to running, start with walking or join a training group to increase your stamina. The latter is also a nice way to meet new people and expand your social circle — giving your mental health a boost.
5. Boxing to de-stress
Boxing is not the first activity that comes to mind, often connected to ring fights and injuries. The type of boxing you would practice is recreational but will speed up your metabolism and burn calories. If you want to improve your heart health, cardio kickboxing is a high-intensity workout you can do at home or the gym.
While it can build up your strength if you use weights, it can also help you release all the stress you usually pile up inside. Every time you hit a punching bag, you exhale and so relieve your body from stress and tension. For this reason boxing in the morning is a great way to start your day with lots of energy and an improved mood.
6. Playing with your children
Children are full of energy and as a parent, you need to be able to keep up with them. Playing with kids can be exhausting, but it’s a great way to include some exercise into your day and have quality time with your family.
Tag and hopscotch are great for cardio and weight loss, as well as to alleviate depression and anxiety with jumping and running. Roller-skating and playing basketball are good for the musculoskeletal system, blood pressure, and coordination. If you are not in such good shape for moderate to high physical activity, musical chairs are always amusing for all.
7. Cycling instead of commuting
Putting on your cycling shoes and hopping on your bike every day can help you with weight management, leg strength, and boost mental health. This low-impact aerobic exercise is a great way to get a boost of positive energy in the morning by cycling to work instead of commuting or driving.
Those who spend most of their work hours sitting down can lower the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, and back pain. Not to mention it’s eco-friendly so you will feel proud of yourself for doing something good for the planet and your city.
8. Camping in nature
Camping is not for everyone, but if you are not so keen on spending time outdoors, you can always try glamping. This is a luxurious variation of camping with the same exposure to nature only in better conditions, like a cozy bed, personal chef, and full bathroom. Whichever you choose, spending time in nature can help you unwind and recharge your batteries.
According to a 2019 study, at least two hours per week in nature can be good for your mental and physical health. Hiking is what people most commonly do during camping, but you can also go rafting, swimming, or mountaineering, all beneficial for the heart, muscles, and joints. Sleeping under the stars, surrounded by nature sounds, can have similar effects as a meditation by lowering your cortisol levels.
9. Gardening outdoors
Another way to spend time in nature is gardening. It helps you build strength, maintain your weight, and get a good night’s sleep. If you grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs you will also improve your diet with more fresh and healthy meals.
A Norwegian study showed positive results when patients with clinical depression participated in therapeutic gardening. As a gardener, you can meet new people through community gardens or spend time with your family outdoors, tending to plants.
10. Decluttering your home
Decluttering is more than tidying up. It brings order into your mind and space, making you feel happier and with more appreciation for your well-being. However, depending on the type of work before you, decluttering can provide a fair amount of exercise as well.
Cleaning, vacuuming, folding, and lifting are all activities that will have your heart pumping, your muscles busy, and you sleeping like a baby at night. Moreover, stepping on the ladder to reach something or standing on your toes to dust high areas can be wonderful for your legs and back. Make sure to know your limits since overdoing it can have you sore and in pain the day after.
The bottom line
Being active in any capacity can protect your mental and physical health. Something as mundane as playing with children or gardening can bring enough activity to have benefits to your well-being. Just remember to choose an exercise or activity that suits you and makes you feel good so you would continue doing it and not quit.