We all know that regular exercise and moving our body is good for us but it can also have a positive effect on our mood and mental health.

Movement and exercise has been proven to increase the presence of happy hormones, like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, making us happier and more focused. Looking after our mental heath is vital, our mind and body are intimately connected and in these challenging times it is arguably even more important to keep our body and mind active.

A great way to uplift your mind and set you up for the day is to do this in the morning. Rising with the sun and moving our body allows us to set our intentions the day.  It’s important to warm up our body and so a great way to start the day is with some simple stretching, you may wish to practice Yoga (we're lucky as there are so many great resources available online at the moment, be it recorded or joining a class) or this might just be some gentle stretches to waken your body. Don't feel you need to push yourself too much, listen to your body and connect with your mind. 

If you can, get outside, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as fresh air (and it also gets us away from our screens and devices). Getting out early can be beneficial, not only to start the day in the right way but is often quieter. Spending time in nature can really benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Running is a great way of moving our body but even just getting out for a walk can be beneficial. A great way of really connecting with your mind is to increase your awareness of your body and your movements. How are you feeling? What can you see, hear, smell, taste? How does the ground feel beneath your feet? Think about your breathing.

Try and get into a routine, recognising that sleep and hydration are also really important.

Tips for incorporating mindful movement into your routine: 

Try a mindful walk or run

As mentioned above, on your walk or run bring mindful attention on the sensations within your body. 

Or explore somewhere you’ve not been before? The same streets / paths can become monotonous and we can fall into a trap of not really thinking. Switching off can be great but connecting with our mind and bringing our attention to the present can help us focus and feel better in the moment, rather than stressing about the million things going on out of our control. 

I've recently go into local orienteering which is also a great way of turning my run into something more mentally challenging, which gives my mind 

Connect with your body though stretching 

This doesn’t need to be an intense yoga session and could just involve stretching exercises at your desk. Take a moment to change your posture and focus on your breathing can help to relax your mind. I for one have found myself spending longer hours sat at my desk, so don’t forget to move from there as well, give your mind a break from work by focusing on how your body feels, stretch out your upper body and neck gently, noticing any tensions.

Do what makes you feel good! 

One of my favourite ways up uplifting my mind through movement is to dance! You don't need to be a good dancer to feel the benefits of a good shake off. Put on your favourite tune and just move - nobody is watching! Make yourself laugh! Studies have proven that a simple smile can trigger the release of mood boosting endorphins, igniting the connection between muscle and mind. 

written by
portrait

Sarah Renshaw

Architect from Manchester

Age group: 35-40
Club: Chorlton Runners

My Disciplines
Swim run Dance Trail run Olympic distance triathlon Strength training Half marathon
10 KM Marathon Long distance triathlon