After the year we’ve had, we need to look after our mental health more than ever. Nature is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and it’s something that has taken on even greater importance in our lives during the course of the pandemic. Being active in nature has helped millions of us get through the last year. According to research by University College, going for a walk outside and visiting a green space have consistently been the most popular ways of helping people to manage stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
Get close to nature
The good news is that you don’t have to venture into deepest countryside to get your ‘green exercise’ fix; being active in your local park, woods or even your own back garden will help to lift your mood and alleviate stress.
A study by the University of Exeter found that people who spend at least 120 minutes in a natural setting a week are significantly more likely to report higher psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all during an average week. It doesn’t matter whether you spend that two hours in nature in a single visit or spread it over the course of the week. And the benefits apply to both men and women, older and younger adults, those from different ethnic groups, people living in rich and poor areas - even those with long term illnesses or disabilities.
The benefits of outdoor exercise
Exercise is proven to positively impact our mental wellbeing. Even short bursts of exercise can release endorphins – nature’s feel good chemicals – that improve your mood and self-esteem. Exercising in nature has significant benefits for our mental health in particular. You don’t have to run a marathon to feel the benefits - a walk along the beach, a family bike ride, a jog round the park or a dip in the sea - if you’re brave enough - will help you connect with nature and improve your wellbeing.
With MZ-Switch - the world’s first heart rate monitor that you can wear on your chest, arm or wrist - you can track your exercise anywhere, even while you are swimming, so take your workouts outside for an even bigger boost to your mental health.
Set yourself goals
It’s important to set goals to motivate yourself. Both short and long term goals help keep you focussed and on track with your fitness. Set yourself a target for the number of MEPs you want to earn each week and month via your Myzone app, hit that goal and challenge yourself to put in more effort and go further - you’ll feel on top of the world. Sign up to our May challenge, which is all about doubling down on effort, and you could bag yourself one of our MZ-Switch heart rate monitors.
Make exercise a habit
People who take part in regular physical activity have up to a 30% lower risk of depression. The key is to do something you enjoy and get into a routine, so that activity becomes part of your life.
“If I don’t work out, I don’t feel like my day is complete. It's important not only for me to look good, but more so to feel good. Working out gives me endorphins that lead to a more positive day overall, which is a motivator to continue the routine,” says Myzone user Lauren Munroe.
“Getting a workout in helps me maintain mental clarity during the working day, which is needed even more right now as I am working completely remotely.”
Myzone’s ranking system helps you stick to your exercise programme. If you achieve 1,300 MEPs or more each month – the recommended activity for healthy adults – you will rise up the rankings.
People who have supportive friends and family are more likely to also enjoy better mental health, which is why it’s so important to maintain our relationships. Share your workout results with friends through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. With MZ-Remote you can take part in a live fitness class along with your friends. You can see their live feedback on your screen to get some friendly competition going, just as you would in a real class. Or use your Myzone to set up an outdoor challenge for the whole family to enjoy. Set your target MEPs and see who gets there first.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We’ve all suffered in some way over the last year, so now is the time to look after our mental wellbeing and being active outdoors is the perfect way to do it. Whether you’re walking to work, playing with the kids or doing a workout in the garden, all outdoor activity will benefit your mental health and with Myzone you can track it all. Get out in the great outdoors and feel the power of nature.
Follow us on social media @Myzonemoves and be sure to use the hashtags #keepmoving #keepmepping and #myzonecommunity whenever you post so we can all stay connected, no matter where we are.
Keep moving forward!