Most health experts agree that there is a link between the body and mind, that the way you care for one can have an impact on the other. 

So how much exercise do you need to do to reduce your stress levels? And what kind of exercise can be most effective? We have taken a closer look to try and answer these questions.

What counts as physical activity?

Physical activity counts as movement that uses your muscles, which basically means that the options are endless. The average adult is recommended to do between 75 to 150 minutes of exercise per week, which can include anything that makes you breathe a little faster, such as walking, running, swimming, but can also include housework, walking up and down the stairs, as well as dancing in the kitchen!

How much exercise should I do for a positive impact on our mood?

The guideline of between 75 to 150 minutes of exercise per week is just that, a guideline. If you want to do more then that’s fantastic, if you feel that you can’t do as much, then no problem. It is whatever works for you and your lifestyle, you may start small and increase your activity levels over time, or you may only increase the amount you do when you are feeling particularly stressed. 

How does exercise impact our mood?

Exercise can instantly make you feel more awake and content, working quite quickly at even a low-intensity level. It can make you feel calmer and will clear your mind, giving you something else to focus on.

How will exercise decrease our stress levels?

When you feel stressed or upset, your body can react intensely, with both physical symptoms and making you behave in ways that are out of the ordinary for you. It can also impact your sleep patterns, appetite and blood pressure, all of which can make you feel miserable and sometimes leave you with a feeling of hopelessness. 

Exercise is wonderfully effective in combating these feelings and symptoms. Getting out into the fresh air is great for clearing the cobwebs from your mind which is a great place to start. Physical activity will enable your body to release ‘feel good’ endorphins, which will instantly lift your mood. Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when stressed, offering an energy boost to keep you going, However, too much of this will be counter-intuitive, so exercise will help you to keep this hormone under control. It will reduce anxiety and improve the blood flow to your heart, which will help your circulation and leave you feeling overall better in yourself.