Posted: 6th January 2022

Sara Guy, Director of Sport, shares her thoughts on the importance of physical activity and mental health.

Being physically active means moving your body and working your muscles: such as walking, running, dancing, yoga, horse riding, gardening or swimming. Being active is something many of us can do for free like walking which results in releasing chemicals in your brain which make you feel good and has positive effects on the brain and your performance in school.

Physical activity plays an important role in managing our mental health, especially depression and anxiety. Research shows that exercise can be the best defence against a lot of the common mental health issues that all ages struggle with, not just students. There have been many studies which have shown that doing any type of physical activity can improve mental health. For example, it can help with managing stress or anxiety, something many of face on a daily basis with things like work overload. Doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us to manage stress as it gives our brain something to focus on, resulting in a positive coping strategy for difficult times. It can also be a great way to connect and meet new people as lots of physical activity requires teamwork skills which can help you meet new and like-minded people.

Physical activity has an impact on cognitive skills such as concentration and research suggest that it can enhance classroom attitudes and behaviours, all of which are important aspects of a learning environment. Just one session of moderate physical activity instantly boosts students’ brain function as the number of brain neurotransmitters is increased, assisting in the ability to focus, learn, remember and handle stress.

One thing people always find hard to believe when doing any form of exercise is that it makes you feel good. It really does! Not only does physical activity release ‘feel-good’ hormones that actually result in giving you more energy but it can also better our self-esteem, making you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals.

It can be difficult to start being more active, particularly if you’re not sure where to start! The answer is simple, start off slowly. It may take a while to build up your fitness but doing it too much at first will make you feel tired and you’ll end up losing motivation to carry on. An athlete wasn’t built overnight. Plan a realistic and achievable routine such as on your lunch break going for a 20-minute walk to get away from your desk. Try to identify your triggers and by that, I mean what might have previously put you off such as exercising in front of people or not having the time, you could try exercising in the comfort of your own home.

Sport and Physical Education play an important part of everyday life here at Leweston School and there is an impressive range of options for pupils to take advantage of. The school takes great pride in its inclusive approach and all pupils are encouraged to pursue any sport that interests them. They are given support to develop and achieve to the best of their ability and compete at the level of competition that they aspire to. The PE programme is designed to promote positive attitudes to physical, mental and emotional health which will remain with pupils for the rest of their lives.

To find out more about what physical activity we have on offer, click here.

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