World Mental Health Day falls on 10th October but we are pledging our long-term commitment to talk and act on this topic beyond just one single day. This October, join us for a jam-packed agenda of walks, talks, activities, blogs + events all around mental health.
Today, we're exploring how movement can impact your mental health. To get us started, we share the thoughts of Paralympic athlete and Make Life Richer Ambassador, Colin Judge, who experiences the direct impact that physical movement has on his mental health and life in general.
In your experience, does movement impact your mental health?
When I move I’m normally playing table tennis, swimming or in the gym. Exercise reduces stress and body tension which helps to keep me calm. As a result, I can think clearer, make better decisions and have more control over my emotions. Being an active person also means meeting people, developing relationships and improving my social skills which absolutely has a direct impact on my mental health.
So, it sounds like movement also helps to make your mind a bit sharper?
Definitely!! When I exercise I have to focus on my breathing which helps with my concentration and allows me to learn more efficiently, for a longer period of time.
Does movement impact your mood at all?
When I go swimming or to the gym and complete my routine I certainly get a boost and feel proud of myself, energised and ready to take on the day. I have made a commitment and followed through on that commitment which helps boost the relationship I have with myself.
What role does variety of movement play for you?
Varying my movements and activities is very important for me as it allows me to challenge myself in different ways and really keeps my mind engaged. When I swim, I try the front-stroke, the back-stroke with and without a snorkel. In the gym, I have a few different routines given to me by my personal trainer and in table tennis I am always trying to find new exercises and ways of playing. It’s not only a matter of testing your physical capabilities but also the mental side which is healthy for the mind.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Staying active and moving every day has changed my life. I remember back to when I was twelve years old, struggling with my disability and not having any belief that I could do any sport or form of physical exercise. I persisted to try out new sports as I knew it was very important for my physical and mental well-being. Then, I found table tennis and never looked back. Not only was I moving every day and staying active which was great for my physical health, but I was meeting new people all the time. These interactions were central to my happiness and really improved my social skills.
I also gained a lot of self-confidence which was one of the most important factors that helped me deal with my disability. Table tennis and movement made me realise that for all the things that I couldn’t do, there was a huge amount that I could do and that really gave me the self-belief and inner strength that you see in me today.
Having heard many reasons WHY we should be active to maintain a healthier mind, now it's time for the HOW. Here are some little tips that can help you add some movement into your daily routines:
- Start with small goals. If you set unrealistic targets, you can easily become demoralised if you don’t achieve them right away. Build up your activity levels and give yourself a chance.
- Some people like to track their progress as they go. Journaling to share your feelings or even celebrating some little wins can provide further motivation.
- Keep it fun! Find something that engages you and makes me smile. If you’re really into it, you'll come back for more.
- Often, you need it when you want to do it the least. Give it the importance it deserves, book it into your calendar and you’ll thank yourself on the other side, trust us!