Read full post: Movement: Moving More for Mental Health

Movement: Moving More for Mental Health

We often hear that movement and exercise is good for our health. And you may have already heard of the many benefits it holds for our mental health too. Some well-known benefits of physical exercise for mental wellbeing include improved mood, elevated brain functioning, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Other great benefits include improved sleep quality, and heightened self-esteem. These effects stem from many different factors, from the release of endorphins to the cultivation of a more positive self-image.

The many benefits of physical exercise have placed it at the heart of most self-care routines.  Although, a common myth is that we need to do exercise consistently, strenuously, and at set intervals to achieve real change or noticeable differences. The truth is, while consistent, proper training can be transformative, the small, conscious efforts we make throughout the day make a big difference too. In this blogpost, we look at some consequences of not moving enough throughout the day, as well as some helpful strategies to keep us more active, healthy, and mentally resilient.

What Happens When We Don’t Move Enough

When we sit still in one position for the span of an 8-to-9-hour workday, our bodies and minds pay the price. This applies regardless of whether we spend an hour at the gym or going for a jog before or after work. Prolonged sitting can lead to a decrease in blood circulation, which in turn reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients flowing to our muscles. This stagnation can cause stiffness and lead to discomfort or chronic pain, especially in the back and neck. Also, sitting for extended periods can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity due to metabolic slowdowns.

On a mental level, a lack of movement can impact our mental health, leading in some cases to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. The energy dips and the monotony of remaining stationary can also affect our concentration, memory, and creativity.

Despite the benefits of regular exercise, it takes more than just a single session of physical activity to undo the effects of sitting at a desk all day. It's about balance and bringing in more movement throughout the day. Standing up, stretching, or walking for a few minutes every hour are just a few examples of how we can dramatically improve circulation, engage our muscles, and re-energise our minds.

A consistent, integrated approach to movement can help us maintain our physical health, mental sharpness, and overall wellbeing. Once you trial this for yourself, you may witness first-hand that true health stems from a lifestyle of balanced activity, not just isolated workouts.

The Link Between Movement and Resilience  

Movement and physical activity can boost resilience in several ways. It not only makes us more physically resilient but helps build mental resilience too. Let’s begin with physical resilience. Doing regular physical activity strengthens the muscles and joints in the body, which improves our ability to withstand and recover from physical stressors. We can tell that we are physically resilient through signs like improved endurance, strength, and flexibility. We may also find that we have a stronger immune system and that we are getting sick less often. This physical resilience makes us more capable of bouncing back from illness or injury easily.

When it comes to mental resilience, physical activity plays a vital, positive role in our brain chemistry. Movement and exercise makes our bodies release endorphins – often dubbed as the feel-good hormones. This process not only elevates mood but also dulls pain, creating a natural coping mechanism against stress. Exercise has also been shown to enhance the brain's plasticity – meaning that it more easily adapts to new challenges and recovers faster from psychological stress. This ‘neuroplasticity’ (i.e., the brain’s ability to evolve and renew itself) supports our memory, attention, and problem-solving – all vital components of mental resilience.

It’s also important to note that physical activity can be a stress reliever, providing a healthy outlet for tension and clearing the mind. This can give us the mental clarity and emotional stability we need to face difficult situations in our daily lives. The discipline, routine, and goals linked to regular exercise can also bring a sense of purpose and achievement. This may reinforce our self-esteem and give us the resilience we need to overcome obstacles.

Tips and Tricks to Keep You Moving   

Incorporating more movement into your day, despite a busy work schedule, is essential for maintaining both physical and mental health. Here are some practical tips and insights to help keep you moving:

Start Your Day with Movement – Begin with a simple stretch or a short walk. Even a 5-minute yoga flow can awaken your body and mind, setting a positive tone for the day.

Transform Your CommuteIf possible, walk or bike to work. For those who commute by public transport or car, park further away or get off a stop early to increase walking.

Desk exercises – Use every opportunity to stretch at your desk. Leg lifts, seated stretches, or even desk push-ups can make a difference. Consider a desk that can transition between sitting and standing.

Schedule Movement Breaks – Set reminders to stand or walk every hour. Use this time to refill your water, take a brief walk, or perform a quick stretch routine.

Walking Meetings – Propose walking meetings for one-on-ones or brainstorming sessions. This not only promotes movement but can also boost creativity.

Lunchtime Strolls – Use part of your lunch break to go for a walk. It's a great way to decompress and get your steps in.

Incorporate Active Hobbies – Engage in activities you enjoy that also keep you active, like dancing, gardening, or cycling.

Evening Wind-Down After dinner, resist the urge to sit down immediately. A gentle walk can aid digestion and help you unwind before bed.

Be Mindful of Movement – Recognise every opportunity to move. Opt for stairs over elevators, stand during phone calls, and if possible, organise your workspace to encourage movement.

By adding these practices into your daily routine, you may discover that staying active isn't just beneficial for your health—it's also achievable. And that’s regardless of how packed your schedule might seem. Each step, stretch, and active choice contributes to a healthier, more vibrant you.

Tracking Your Progress and Staying Motivated

To track your progress and stay motivated, begin by setting clear, achievable goals. For this, it may be helpful to use fitness trackers or apps that log your steps, active minutes, and workouts. These devices can provide visual evidence of your progress. It’s also important to celebrate milestones, no matter how small, to recognise your achievements and maintain motivation.

To stay focused on your goals, try to have regular check-ins with yourself or an accountability partner. To avoid getting bored with a specific activity or strategy, engage in varied physical activities from one week to the next to keep the routine exciting. Sharing your journey on social media or with a close circle of friends can also offer a sense of community and encouragement.

Remember, motivation thrives on recognising the benefits of your efforts, such as improved mood, increased energy, and visible health improvements. By consistently measuring progress and celebrating every success, you reinforce the positive habits you're building, keeping the momentum alive in your journey towards a more active lifestyle.



As we continue to uncover the connection between movement and wellbeing, it's clear that getting our bodies moving is crucial for both our minds and bodies to function optimally. Tackling the sedentary lifestyle head-on by bringing more movement into our day can really change the game, boosting our resilience and overall happiness. The key is to start making movement a non-negotiable part of our daily lives, so we may experience the ripple effects it can have towards a brighter, healthier future.


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