Activities that benefit both physical and mental health are vital. While it’s important to exercise, you shouldn’t necessarily restrict your consideration to the physical impacts. Mental health, specifically psychological equilibrium and resilience, are improved by moving your body, even if you don’t consider it strictly as working out.
If you can safely join a gardening group, the social interaction coupled with the other benefits of this type of physical exertion are wonderful. Not only will your mood be boosted by the act of creating a beneficial change in your environment, but your social skills will get some necessary flexing, too. You need not be a master gardener to enjoy the pastime of gardening. Simply by using physical energy to alter the landscape and watch plants thrive is rewarding. Working with soil will also enhance your mood, thanks to the natural microbes with which we have a beneficial relationship.
Hiking isn’t just good for the body, it also gives your brain something to chew on. The sights and sensations you experience while engaging in this activity actually serve as an added distraction. While walking in a more sedate environment, such as a park or a neighborhood, can have a similar effect, the unfamiliar context adds its own dimension.
The physical benefits of better circulation are well-noted. However, mood-boosting endorphins are released when your Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis responds to the added blood flow. This is why you feel good when you finish exercising, even if you were reluctant to start. Add to this the fact that pine oil, released from pine trees and other coniferous species, has a documented antidepressant effect, and it’s a perfect pastime for the overworked brain.
Join a Non-Contact Sports Team
Sports like ultimate frisbee and disc golf provide a great deal of enjoyment and social interaction while also getting you moving. This offers several mental health benefits along with the physical component of exercise. Plus, it adds a healthy level of competitiveness that some individuals truly enjoy while not adding too much pressure. It’s fun, and these are not officially recognized sports, so the overt angst-inducing aspect that some sports offer to perform well isn’t present in either game.
Related to hiking, this pastime is slightly more involved and will require at least one night away from your abode. However, if you can get away for multiple days, there are added benefits. In addition to breaking your accustomed routine, it offers the chance to reset your circadian rhythms. In just a few days, you’ll be sleeping more naturally, which offers energy and added focus.
Plus, there are a number of activities and varied state parks available to choose from in your area. For example, camping in a VA state park has been made surprisingly simple. Plus, even if it’s a daytrip away in the car, Virginia has every type of landscape from beaches to mountains available. Because it is relatively southern in its position, this Chesapeake Bay state has a long warm season and a mild winter, with all the fall colors and beautiful spring blossoms you could imagine.
When you’ve decided which type of scenery you’d most prefer, then choose a campsite. Because it’s a known pastime for many in the state, they take pride in offering a number of different types of camping, from a basic clearing and facilities to glamping or car camping sites that might surprise you.
Even if you don’t have a private pool, getting out and doing a few laps or playing a round of Marco Polo is excellent for both mental and physical health. Water has a relatively soothing effect on most people, which can lower blood pressure on contact. Plus, if you have other health issues or a different level of ability, swimming has no impact. The water supports you, and there’s no stress on your joints as you exercise. If you prefer a more natural setting, swimming in the sea provides the added benefit of osmotic absorption of minerals and salts through your skin. It may not seem substantial, but it has been shown that people do receive benefits from even a daily dip in the ocean.
There are many ways to improve both the mind and the body. The important thing to remember is that it should be something you enjoy or are curious about, as well as something to break up your routine. You might be surprised at what you discover you enjoy, and how many new hobbies you develop.