The Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExerciseNZ) wants people to put their mental wellbeing first when considering New Year’s resolutions and is emphasising how physical activity leads to people being happier and having a healthier state of mind.
A total of 14.3 percent of adults in New Zealand exercise for less than 30 minutes a week, yet those who exercise say they’re happier and have more energy. Research shows that sleeping well, eating healthy and exercising all relate to a better wellbeing. Physical activity can reduce depressive symptoms, stress and improve moods.
Less than half (48 percent) of New Zealand adults are physically active despite the Ministry of Health recommendation that adults should take part in moderate exercise for at least two and half hours a week. For extra health benefits the recommendation is five hours a week.
ExerciseNZ chief Richard Beddie says those who make physical activity a top goal for 2017 are likely to feel better about their health, be less stressed, have more mental clarity, be more positive and happier.
“At this holiday time of year it is important to leave the previous year’s baggage behind,” says Beddie, “As a new year approaches people naturally reflect, recharge and start planning for what comes next. When reflection of negative occurrences overpowers happy and positive thoughts, this can lead to unhealthy rumination and feelings of hopelessness and depression.
“Physical activity can have an incredibly positive influence over the state of mind and practicing mindfulness techniques in combination with exercise is a great way to keep focused on the here and now and to remove that unwanted clutter.”
Yoga is increasingly being recognised as one of the best ways to improve physical and mental wellbeing because it helps improve multiple facets of someone’s life all at once. People who practice yoga experience improved sleep patterns, have more energy and an increased focus which leads to improved general habits like eating heathier and exercising more.
“Exercise is no longer just about go hard or go home. More Kiwis are taking up yoga as a way of combining physical activity with mindfulness techniques to restore a healthy balance, de-stress and maintain an overall state of wellbeing,” Beddie says.
ExerciseNZ recommends the use of registered exercise professionals to be most successful in adopting and maintaining exercise regimes. See here for a register of NZ exercise professionals.