What is exercise?
Anything that gets your body active and makes
you a bit out of breath is exercise. It might be sports like
football or netball, playing with friends or part of your everyday
life like a brisk walk to school.
Why do exercise?
Exercise keeps our heart, body and our minds
healthy. There is evidence that exercise can help in depression,
anxiety and even protects you from stress. To work properly, your
body needs regular exercise.
Regular activity helps you to:
- feel good about yourself
- concentrate better
- sleep better
- have a positive outlook on life
- keep a healthy weight
- build healthy bones muscles and joints.
Most of us feel good when we are active. So -
don’t worry about not doing enough – get started by building a bit
more physical activity into your daily life now. Even a small
change can get your heart healthier, make you feel happier.
Why does exercise make me feel
When you exercise it releases ‘feel good’
chemicals called endorphins in our brain. It also affects chemicals
called ‘dopamine’ and ‘serotonin’ which are related to depression
and anxiety. Exercise can help brain cells to grow. In your body,
regular exercise makes your heart, muscles, and bones stronger and
Activity can help you feel more in control
which helps when you are worried or stressed. You can even make new
friends and have fun when you exercise with other people.
How much activity is enough for
Any activity is good. You should try to do
some activity everyday. Regular exercise for about 40 minutes which
gets you out of breath, five times a week, will have the best
results on your body and mood.
What kind of exercise can I do?
You choose! Don't worry if you have never done it before or if
you don't like sports. Exercise does not have to be about running
around a track or going to a gym. It can just be about being active
There might be easy ways to get more active like getting off the
bus and walking, taking the stairs instead of a lift, or taking
your dog for a walk. It might be active sports like football,
netball, hockey or rugby, or you might prefer something less
competitive like walking, jogging or rock climbing.
If you like something relaxing, then walking listening to music
on earphones or doing yoga might suit you more. Have a look around
and find something you think you'll enjoy.
What do I need to do to exercise healthily?
- Making the start if the first step.
- Start gently especially if you have not done exercise for a
long time. If you have physical health problems, do check with your
doctor or specialist.
- Don’t overdo it – even if you are very fit. Too much exercise
or exercising too intensely will make you feel worse. Even Olympic
athletes have to make sure they do not overstrain themselves.
- You may need to watch your diet. Make sure you are eating
healthily, especially breakfast, and avoid too much tea, coffee or
- Watch your weight. Usually exercise helps us keep to a healthy
weight, but sometimes exercise can get out of control. If your
weight goes down too much it can cause problems.
- Avoid exercising too late in the day because it can make it
hard to switch off and go to sleep.
- Finally, enjoy it. If you find it’s making you anxious or
unhappy, then speak to someone or check out the websites mentioned
below to find something that works better for you.
Getting down to it
The most important thing is to make a start. This might mean
getting help and support from your friends, family, teacher, school
or health professional like nurse:
- Making a plan to go with someone else can help you to keep
- Going to an exercise class or gym can boost your
- Some people find using an exercise diary or timetable
- Writing the goals can make them easier to remember. Try to keep
it simple and set a plan you can do for few weeks. See how you do
before you set the next target.
It is important that you have fun. If you are finding it hard,
boring or it makes you feel worse, then think again, ask for help
or try something new. Nobody’s perfect. You can have times when you
find it difficult or stop doing it. Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow
is another day and you can start again. If you need it, talk to
someone or ask for help.
“We moved house last year and I started at a
new school. It wasn’t easy to make friends at first and I got
picked on a bit. School went right downhill and I got into a few
fights. One of the teaching assistants told me about a football
team near where I live. I’ve met other young people and made some
friends. My confidence has got better and I get less angry now. I
go to training every week and last week I got the winning
“It’s been a tough time. We had family
problems and then I had exams on top. I started to get really
stressed out, couldn’t relax at night or concentrate at school.
Sometimes I found myself just bursting into tears. I’ve been
talking to the woman at school and starting running helped me to
get some space for myself. I’ve really improved in how far I can
go, but mostly I run because I enjoy it. It’s given me my energy
back. My sleep has got better and I don’t feel so depressed any
more. A friend has asked if she can run with me sometimes. I’m kind
of ready for that now.”