Kate Thompson, Physical Education and Sport Subject Advisor
Why do we exercise? So that we don’t feel guilty when we have a piece of cake for a colleague’s birthday? Maybe it’s to socialise with our friends or perhaps to lose weight or to keep in shape.
You probably already know that exercise can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. But did you know it can also boost your mood, sharpen your memory, improve your sleep and help you to feel more positive about your life? In this blog I’ll look at the how exercise can make us feel better and suggest ways to help young people can get more involved.
Whether it’s yoga or running, football or a dance class, sport and exercise can bring lots of mental benefits:
Take a look at the resources available from the mental health charity, Mind, for more information on the health benefits.
I like to listen to music when I exercise, whether I’m in the gym, or while I’m running, walking or whichever form of exercise I choose to do.
Music can help distract us from the impending pain of a heavy workout or make each mile go a little quicker when we’re pounding the pavement on a run. Now we have even more reason to put a playlist together as research has found five health benefits to listening to music while we exercise:
There are a number of campaigns that aim to encourage young people to keep active with particular emphasis on mental wellbeing.
We want to encourage everyone to develop active habits that can last a lifetime. Surely our job as educators is to show what’s available to students? Not all sport has to be competitive and as an individual it’s about what finding what is enjoyable and works for you.
Have you heard of the Hot Girl Walk trend that was started by TikToker Mia? It basically consists of thinking about three specific things for the entirety of the walk:
The overall aim of this trend is to encourage you to think positively about various things in your life, especially yourself. Creating new, positive thought processes in individuals boosts their mental wellbeing, physical health and self-confidence as well as getting us away from a screen for an hour.
Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign was first launched in 2015. Its aim is to encourage women of all ages, shapes and sizes to be active by giving them the opportunity to join classes and activity groups around the country in a supportive and non-judgmental way. Since they started they’ve persuaded nearly four million women and girls to be more active.
Active in Mind is a mentor programme that supports young people to transform their mindset through physical activity. It’s aimed at secondary school students who find it difficult to engage with learning at school, and who struggle with their physical and mental health.
Its purpose is to increase these students’ awareness of mental health issues, improve their physical activity levels, develop skill sets and improve their coping strategies.
We all struggle to fit more into our lives, but we need to give exercise a priority. We need to be more selfish about finding some ‘me time’. For example, by finding 30 mins to go for a brisk walk we’re allowing ourselves time to think, order our thoughts and interact with other people outside of work and family.
Learning new skills keeps our brains active at any age. Joining a club or class gives us a chance to interact with other people on a regular basis, helping forming friendships and support networks.
Remember it’s important to find an exercise routine that suits your interests and lifestyle. And bear in mind that when it comes to our mental health, small steps can have a real benefit.
And check out our podcast on sport and nutrition, which features Mark Johnson and I talking to Dr Chris McLeod from Loughborough University about eating and exercise.
Share your thought in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_PhysEd. You can also sign up to subject updates to receive information about resources and support.
Kate joined OCR as a PE and sport subject advisor in November 2021 having taught in a variety of primary and secondary schools for over 17 years gaining experience and subject knowledge. During this time, she set up and delivered a range of courses within PE. She has also worked in sports development for a not-for-profit organisation in South Africa increasing the sports access in township schools. In her spare time Kate enjoys being active, travel and photography.