Get Activemovement and your mood

Movement and Your Mood

14 May 2024

Getting active is clinically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and release dopamine, which is a natural mood booster, and increase endorphins which are a natural painkiller.

Have you ever experienced that moment where you’re dancing to a piece of great music and you just feel nothing but a flood of happiness, and you can’t explain it?

Moving your body is clinically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and releases DOPAMINE, which is a natural mood booster, and ENDORPHINS which are a natural painkiller, that's what you are feeling!

So actually, a solo dance off in the kitchen could be just what you need when you’re having a hard day. And if you're not exactly the dancing type, no worries! The point is to find what moves your body and makes you feel alive. 

Sure, when you're feeling down, the last thing you want hear is "Go for a walk" or "Hit the gym." But trust me, those well-meaning folks are onto something. Physical activity isn't just about pumping iron or logging miles; it's a game-changer for your mental health and mood.


So what are the benefits?

  • Boosts Mood: releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins, which can lift your spirits and leave you feeling happier.
  • Reduces Stress: It helps to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed and at ease.
  • Increases Energy: It might sound counterintuitive, but expending energy through exercise actually gives you more pep in your step.
  • Improves Sleep: Regular physical activity can help regulate your sleep patterns, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
  • Sharpens Focus: Increases blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function and focus.
  • Builds Confidence: Can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem. Plus, feeling strong and healthy just feels good!
  • Builds Connection: Can be a great way to socialise and build connections with others


Turns out we know all this already

The Mental Health Foundation recently released a report that digs into why some us in Northern Ireland might be feeling a bit stuck in the motion department. They surveyed range of people, the research sample was 997 adults in Northern Ireland and the data was weighted to be nationally representative. The survey took place between the 12 – 21 March 2024.

Turns out, even though a whopping 83% of adults in Northern Ireland are totally clued in on how exercise is a game-changer for mental health. More than half (52%) of adults feel that their mental health and wellbeing can be improved through physical activity.

The research does show that there are still some barriers that are stopping people from getting active, which we've summarised below. 

  • Time: 38% of adults are juggling so much they find it hard to squeeze in a workout, and a quarter are just plain busy bees
  • Weather: Around 37% of folks are choosing to stay indoors and cosy up, instead of braving the elements.
  • Stress: About 21% of people are finding it hard to shake off daily stressors and just get moving. For the young’uns, it’s even higher—30% of 18-24 year-olds are feeling the weight of stress holding them back.
  • Cost: 17% of folks are feeling the pinch in their wallets when it comes to staying active.
  • Ability: Around one out of every six folks (that's 17%) told us that dealing with a long-term condition or disability was holding them back from getting more active. This increases to 28% in 50 and 64 year olds.



"I started strength training about a year ago and initially I chose to do this for weight loss. What I found through this was a significant change. I began to sleep better, wake earlier, be in better form, and I found that I began to enjoy the challenge and having something to work towards.

I started to go out for more walks, in nature, and found that the more I did it, the more I wanted to do it. I stopped experiencing large bouts of sadness or despair, but I also found that when I was feeling that way, encouraging myself to do something physical was helping me process my mood and leaving me feeling more balanced." Bryony Jackson, County Down




But I don't have the time, money or ability

Getting active isn't just about hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. You don't have to be sporty to enjoy moving your body.

There are tonnes of fun ways to get moving at home or in your community. Whether it's joining a walking group or local sports team, there's something for everyone. Or swap the coffee shop meet up with your buddies for litter picking in your neighbourhood. Or some yoga in the comfort of your own home.

A great goal would be to aim to add (or squeeze) 15-30 minutes out of your day for increased movement - in a way that feels right for you. Even if that is just getting the tunes on and having a dance in the living room, bonus points if you can get the whole family involved!

So, give it a whirl next time you're feeling a bit Meh. You owe it to yourself to prioritize your well-being, and we can all squeeze in 15 minutes a day. Trust me, it's worth it.

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KEYWORD TAGS: anxiety depression sleep

If you are experiencing distress or are in a mental health crisis please contact
Lifeline on 0808 808 8000


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