SCAN Squats: Healthy body, healthy mind

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by Victor via Flickr

With mental health being a major talking point across the country in recent months, after Prince Harry’s very endearing public announcement of his personal struggles, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to give my advice for keeping your mind as healthy as your body. This advice is for those who are aware that they are struggling with their mental health but also for those who are just sick of revising and need to get out of the library.

Many people are not aware that the mind and body are linked when it comes to exercise. A tiny 20-30 minutes of exercise a day can keep your mind healthy. Keeping in mind that this exercise needs to be enough to actually get you out of breath and get your heart pumping here are my suggestions:

Go for a run/jog OUTSIDE

This is pretty self-explanatory. Getting out and getting fresh air allows you to feel more alive, and the scenery is much more exciting than it would be on a treadmill at the gym. If you’re sick of your own thoughts this is a great way to get away from it all and get in touch with the amazing nature we have around us in Lancaster. Run down by the river, up at Ashton memorial or even just around the lake on campus. If you aren’t fit enough or just can’t be bothered to run or jog, make it a brisk walk instead and try to add in a few hill-climbs to get your heart pumping.

Classes

This can be anything from a spin class to yoga depending on how out of breath you really want to get. Although these are mostly indoors, it is a nice change from the usual same-old gym exercises. If your flatmates are driving you crazy but you don’t feel like exercising alone, these are perfect because there is always the extra encouragement of others and the teachers. A yoga class is a great way to help with any mental health issues because most of them involve an exercise to help you control your breathing. If you’re struggling for cash (aren’t we all?) there are free yoga classes held in colleges and around campus on the run-up to exam period so make the most of these!

Home workout

Some days it’s just too hard to leave home, and quite frankly you are tired of looking at the same four library walls. On these days just try to get a bit of exercise done in the comfort of your bedroom instead. Circuit sessions are easy to set up and don’t need any equipment other than yourself and a timer. Do the exercises that you like to do the most and do them for around 30-60 seconds each time because this is the most efficient way, any more than this and you’ll give up. Some of the exercises that I would recommend are: squats, plank, lunges, mountain climbers, leg flutters, and press-ups, but there are hundreds of variations of all of these and more that you can find with a quick internet search.

For all the suggestions, try to convince a friend to go along with you, they might need an escape just as much as you. For even more suggestions on how to keep your mind as healthy as your body I would recommend visiting mind.org.uk

Most importantly don’t wear yourself out, especially during exam period. You want to do enough to get away from the revision and enough to stimulate your mind, but not too much that all you want to do all day is sleep. Mental health is so important and if you are struggling and revising, writing essays or even the simpler things are getting too hard then seek help. Speak to your lecturers, friends, family, or speak to one of the counsellors on campus or your college welfare officer, that is what they are there for. This time of year is difficult for students and our mental health should not suffer for anything.