mental health and fitness


by nancy

As January continues to drag on into February and winter seems to have no end in sight, many of us may start to feel our mental health deteriorate. In Britain, we tend to complain about the ‘winter blues’ but it has been proven that many of us suffer from seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD (NHS). This is where we can suffer bouts of depression through lack of sunlight which can have a negative effect on our mental wellbeing.

There are a variety of solutions to this, for example, go out and enjoy the sunlight (the little that we have), invest in a light box, supplement or (perhaps the best option of all) eat a balanced diet and exercise.

There is a clear link between mental health and physical wellbeing, as scientists claim that it “brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control, and the ability to rise to a challenge” (NHS). Moreover, as women tend to suffer from depression and anxiety more than men, there is even more need for women to look after their mental health through exercise.

Within the UK it is recommended that adults should do at least “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as fast walking or cycling, a week” (NHS). This can seem like a momentous task as many of us lead hectic lives and may feel that we don’t have enough time to fit this level of exercise into our busy weeks. However, resigning ourselves to no or low levels of exercise is very detrimental to our quality of life and even starting with upping our exercise by an hour per week could begin to improve mental and physical wellbeing. The key is start to make small changes to our lifestyle in order to reap the many rewards that exercise can bring.

Changes could include walking or cycling to work, or getting off your tube/train/bus a stop earlier. These seemingly small lifestyle changes can make a difference. Or why not try a form of exercise that you enjoy? There is a diverse range of exercise that you can get involved in, including raving before work! The key to sticking with a regular routine is doing exercise you enjoy, whether you need to do it alone or you like the social atmosphere of the gym and fitness classes.



a list of exercise that are relatively easy and cheap to do:

  • Walking – Is low impact and easy, if this interests you Southwark has a range of walking associations that make walking fun!

  • Yoga – Sounds daunting but at the heart of yoga are simple stretches designed to “focus and connect with your breath, and your body” something that modern life can neglect. There are many YouTube tutorials or our gym offers yoga sessions too.

  • Swimming – Do you remember how fun swimming was when you were younger? Again it is a low impact sport and is a good way to exercise your entire body. Here are some tips for becoming a better swimmer.

  • Cycling – We know that it can be intimidating to cycle on the road so Southwark offers free cycling confidence courses. Get on your bike!

  • Dance – Everyone loves dancing, even if you don’t think that you’re any good! There are many classes out there, such as Zumba or Barre, including here at the Bridge!



and finally, remember to rest.

(Too much exercise could also be detrimental to your mental health.)