Today is a day to get rid of the stigma and raise awareness of two very important issues which effect many people around the world, mental health and cancer. Being health and leisure centre’s we want to highlight how a prescription to exercise can be a form of treatment for both issues.
Time to change #timetotalk
Time to change is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and is a social movement made up of thousands of individuals and organisations across England who are all doing their bit to change the way the nation thinks and acts when it comes to mental health.
Did you know that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any one year? This means that probably almost everyone will come in contact with mental illness at some point in their life.
Although there are many ways to combat mental health we believe that exercise can be a key factor on the road to recovery. Research carried out has revealed that exercise can be just as good as antidepressants or psychological treatments like cognitive behaviour therapy.¹
There are so many different ways you can keep yourself active and our Active Lifestyles referral programme can open up a whole new active world for you. Currently, only 5% of referrals from Doctors constitute as mental health referrals and this could be because people are unaware of the benefits of exercise with mental health.
So how can exercise actually help mental health?
Here’s a bit of sciencey stuff – Exercise seems to have an effect on many chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking.ª Exercise can also stimulate other chemicals in the brain called brain derived neurotrophic factors. These help new brain cells to grow and develop; it is said that moderate exercise is more efficient than vigorous exercise.ª
Now, a bit less of the sciencey stuff- Believe it or not exercise can actually be enjoyable! From swimming, to classes, to the gym our leisure centre’s have so many ways to keep you active. Even doing a bit of gardening will get you moving around and keep you satisfied.
Social – Being a member of a leisure centre or attending regular activities can be a great way to get you out of the house and meeting other people.
Help you feel more capable – As you begin to achieve personal bests you may begin to see that your body is capable of more than you thought resulting in you being more content with yourself. Plus our Active Lifestyles instructors will be there to keep your progress up to date and support you whenever you need that extra push.
Gives you a sense of control – Sometimes when faced with a mental illness it can feel like your life could spiral out of control at any moment, however, focusing on exercise can help you steer your life into the right direction. Not to mention that the sense of looking after yourself can make you feel great.
Escapism– Exercise can require a lot of focus and determination and because of this your mind is usually set on achieving the best out of your workout. This can act as a form of escapism from the pressures of every day life and help you let of some steam.
World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is a global event which takes place every year on 4 February uniting the world’s population in the fight against cancer. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.
Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years).² However, about 1/3 of the most common cancers could be prevented through diet, weight and physical activity. Furthermore, around 3400 cases of cancer in the UK could be prevented by keeping active.³
The World Cancer Research Fund has provided a list on cancer prevention recommendations and a lot of it includes living a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few examples:
Be a healthy weight – Avoid high calorie foods and sugary drinks.
Move more – Be physically active for at least 30 minutes everyday and sit down less.
Enjoy more grains, veg, fruit and beans.
Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
Avoid drinking alcohol excessively.
As part of our Active Lifestyles referral programme, New Forest Health and Leisure have been working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to train fitness professionals enabling them to provide specialist cancer rehabilitation support to people living with and beyond cancer. Michele Wilkinson, Macmillan Project Lead and Centre Co-ordinator says “Despite strong evidence that being physically active could dramatically improve cancer patients’ recovery and long term health, many health professionals are not aware of this”.
How can you help to make a difference today?
To join in the conversation why not follow @TimetoChange and hashtag #timetotalk by sharing any mental health experiences you have had.
You can also support World Cancer Day by purchasing a unity band and following @
For more information about our Active Lifestyles referral programme please visit our website:
Referred clients are offered specific individual programmes designed by fully qualified Active Lifestyles Advisors, following a full health assessment. The programme offers 20 sessions of activity over a maximum of 12 weeks unless specific session availability is only once a week.
¹ Information gathered from Royal College of Psychiatrists http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx
²Information gathered from http://www.worldcancerday.org/about
³Information gathered from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/physical-activity-and-cancer
Jessica Young - Communications Assistant