Swansea Bay residents are turning to exercise more frequently than people in any other part of Wales to help them improve their mental health during the Covid19 Pandemic.
According to a recent YouGov survey, over a third (37 percent) of those living in the area, said exercise has helped sustain or improve their mental health since the start of the pandemic. This is compared to 34 percent who are turning to exercise to boost their mood, nationally in Wales.
The findings come as the Welsh Government is encouraging people to ‘help us, help you’ by practising self-care and adopting small changes to help improve mental well-being, particularly at a time when levels of anxiety are higher than usual.
The traditional benefits of exercise have been to improve and maintain physical fitness but, more recently, the benefit of exercise to improve mental health has come to the fore. Not least with public figures like Joe Wicks doing his best to get the whole of the UK off its sofa more often. Exercise decreases stress hormones, like cortisol and increases endorphins, which are the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, mood is boosted naturally.
Dr Sarah Collier, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “We know that there are many benefits, both physical and psychological to taking part in regular exercise. As well as the release of ‘feel good’ hormones and endorphins, taking exercise can naturally help improve our mood, increase our self-esteem and confidence, help our thinking skills and reduce any symptoms of anxiety we may be coping with. Research tells us that exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant for some.