We all know exercise is good for you, right? But do you know just how good?

It’s amazing what a little bit of exercise can do for your health. According to the NHS “it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50%.”

But it’s not just your physical health that benefits from getting your body moving. Exercise is also great for your mental wellbeing too. A short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases your mental alertness, energy and positive mood, while regular physical activity can increase your self-esteem, and reduce stress and anxiety. The NHS goes even further, saying, “Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had.”

Get up!
With many of us working longer hours and taking fewer breaks, we’re not always as active as we could be. A lot of us spend the majority of our day sitting down; either at a desk, on transport, or in our leisure time. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, and it’s this lack of physical activity that can have an impact on our mental health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists state, “The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly.”

Get out and about
But don’t worry, there’s plenty we can do to get our recommended daily dose of exercise and help look after our mental health. You could take up a new sport or hobby, cycle to work instead of taking the train, or even just get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Check out the BBC’s Get Inspired website for more ideas and practical guides on what you can do.

Get moving
The NHS recommends that adults aged 19 – 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. It might sound like a lot, but you only need to do a small amount each day to reach that goal. And you don’t have to run a marathon to hit your target either – 30 minutes brisk walking, five days a week counts as your 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity.

It’s important to make sure we look after our mental health, and exercise can help do just that. So, whether it’s a taking up a new sport, restarting an old hobby, or just taking a brisk walk to the shops, a little exercise can go a long way.