What is exercise?
Anything that gets your body active and makes
you a bit out of breath is exercise. It might be sports like
football or netball, playing with friends or part of your everyday
life like a brisk walk to school.
Why do exercise?
Exercise keeps our heart, body and our minds
healthy. There is evidence that exercise can help in depression,
anxiety and even protects you from stress. To work properly, your
body needs regular exercise.
Regular activity helps you to:
- feel good about yourself
- concentrate better
- sleep better
- have a positive outlook on life
- keep a healthy weight
- build healthy bones muscles and joints.
Most of us feel good when we are active. So -
don’t worry about not doing enough – get started by building a bit
more physical activity into your daily life now. Even a small
change can get your heart healthier, make you feel happier.
Why does exercise make me feel
When you exercise it releases ‘feel good’
chemicals called endorphins in our brain. It also affects chemicals
called ‘dopamine’ and ‘serotonin’ which are related to depression
and anxiety. Exercise can help brain cells to grow. In your body,
regular exercise makes your heart, muscles, and bones stronger and
Activity can help you feel more in control
which helps when you are worried or stressed. You can even make new
friends and have fun when you exercise with other people.
How much activity is enough for
Any activity is good. You should try to do
some activity everyday. Regular exercise for about 40 minutes which
gets you out of breath, five times a week, will have the best
results on your body and mood.
What kind of exercise can I do?
"It started without me really noticing it. I got anxious about
someone in my family dying – so I began to tap three times, when I
got worried, for good luck and that would calm me down. Then I had
to do it before I could go to sleep at night –not once but 3 x
When I watched the programme on TV about those germs in hospital
it began to get worse. I couldn’t tell my Mum or Dad about it
because it sounded so silly. I had to wash my hands all the time
because I thought I would pass on an infection and someone would
die. It was mainly at home, but then I began to worry that I would
catch something at school.
I made my Mum wash my school uniform every day. She tried to say
no, but I would get so worked up that she would give in. It came to
a head when I couldn’t get to school on time because I was spending
hours in the bathroom in the morning. I had to wash my hair three
times as well as going through washing in a set order. If I was
interrupted because someone needed the bathroom, I had to start
Mum got me some help. I didn’t want to be seen as some psycho
person, but Dr Roberts was really nice and understood why I was so
worked up about everything. That was when I was 14. Now I am 18. It
was hard work doing the therapy. It is called CBT. You have to try
and work out why you are so anxious and try and control it. Now I
am at College and doing a course that I like. I still do some
counting, but I can keep it under control."
What do I need to do to exercise healthily?
- Making the start if the first step.
- Start gently especially if you have not done exercise for a
long time. If you have physical health problems, do check with your
doctor or specialist.
- Don’t overdo it – even if you are very fit. Too much exercise
or exercising too intensely will make you feel worse. Even Olympic
athletes have to make sure they do not overstrain themselves.
- You may need to watch your diet. Make sure you are eating
healthily, especially breakfast, and avoid too much tea, coffee or
- Watch your weight. Usually exercise helps us keep to a healthy
weight, but sometimes exercise can get out of control. If your
weight goes down too much it can cause problems.
- Avoid exercising too late in the day because it can make it
hard to switch off and go to sleep.
- Finally, enjoy it. If you find it’s making you anxious or
unhappy, then speak to someone or check out the websites mentioned
below to find something that works better for you.
Getting down to it
The most important thing is to make a start. This might mean
getting help and support from your friends, family, teacher, school
or health professional like nurse:
- Making a plan to go with someone else can help you to keep
- Going to an exercise class or gym can boost your
- Some people find using an exercise diary or timetable
- Writing the goals can make them easier to remember. Try to keep
it simple and set a plan you can do for few weeks. See how you do
before you set the next target.
It is important that you have fun. If you are finding it hard,
boring or it makes you feel worse, then think again, ask for help
or try something new. Nobody’s perfect. You can have times when you
find it difficult or stop doing it. Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow
is another day and you can start again. If you need it, talk to
someone or ask for help.
“We moved house last year and I started at a
new school. It wasn’t easy to make friends at first and I got
picked on a bit. School went right downhill and I got into a few
fights. One of the teaching assistants told me about a football
team near where I live. I’ve met other young people and made some
friends. My confidence has got better and I get less angry now. I
go to training every week and last week I got the winning
“It’s been a tough time. We had family
problems and then I had exams on top. I started to get really
stressed out, couldn’t relax at night or concentrate at school.
Sometimes I found myself just bursting into tears. I’ve been
talking to the woman at school and starting running helped me to
get some space for myself. I’ve really improved in how far I can
go, but mostly I run because I enjoy it. It’s given me my energy
back. My sleep has got better and I don’t feel so depressed any
more. A friend has asked if she can run with me sometimes. I’m kind
of ready for that now.”