Skip to content
Main menu hidden.

Physical activity and mental health

We have long been aware of the positive effects physical activity has on our bodies. We know that it makes us more alert, that our bodies become stronger and that our sleep improves. In later years, it has also become known that physical activity also and to a large extent affects our mental health. This page contains suggestions on how you can increase your physical activity.

What is and what does physical activity do?

Physical activity reduces the risks of obesity, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the risk of premature death. It can also improve our cognitive functions, such as our concentration and memory. Regular exercise reduces stress, low-spiritedness, worrying and anxiety, and provides us with better possibilities to handle emotions and thoughts effectively.

A small change in how much you move can have huge effects, regardless of the shape you were in when you started. Most often, physical activity also comes without negative side-effects. What activities you take on, how often and how intensely you take them on, is individual, and you must take your own situation and the effect your wish to achieve by your physical activity into account. A quick walk can be of help when your head is crammed with thoughts and emotions. Try various activities to find the one that suits you best. The best training is the training that happens.

Why the brain is built for movement - a lecture with Anders Hansen

Do you want to handle stress better, feel better, improve your memory and become more creative and intelligent? Modern brain research shows that physical activity and exercising has completely unimaginable effects on the brain, which is the organ in the human body that is affected the most by physical activity. Lecturer is Anders Hansen, senior consultant physician of psychiatry. The film is approximately 18 minutes long.

Some tips on how to get started

  • Break up your periods of sitting still. Take a movement break, preferably several short ones during the day. A sedentary life style increases the risk of illness.
  • Increase your everyday physical activity. Take the stairs instead of the lift, for instance. Every step counts!
  • Activate yourself at a reasonable intensity so your breathing and heartrate increases somewhat, preferably every day.
  • Activate yourself with higher intensity a few times per week, which means that your breathing and heartrate increases noticeably.
  • Strengthen your muscles and skeleton through activities a few times per week. This could be to carry or lift something heavy, jump or walk up a hill.

Set SMART targets you can maintain over time

What do you want to achieve with your physical activity? If you struggle to get going, it may be wise to think about this beforehand to make sure your goal is SMART:

  • Specific – clear and defined, for instance to start taking a walk every day.
  • Measurable – for instance with a set duration or times per week.
  • Attainable or Attractive – set a target that you find reasonable yourself, and this will increase the likelihood of you actually doing it.
  • Realistic – choose a challenging goal, but make sure that it is realistic based upon your situation.
  • Time oriented – when must the goal be fulfilled? Divide your goal into long-term targets and short-term targets. This could increase the chance of actually reaching your goal.

Are you hindered by lack of time, tiredness, not having the right equipment at hand or something else? There is always some activity you can take on – do what is possible.

Health on campus

Twice a year, in the autumn on Wednesday of week 38 and in the spring on Wednesday week 8, the Umea School of Sport Sciences holds Health on Campus as part of an initiative to promote health and wellness at Umeå University. All students and staff are welcome and naturally the event is free of charge. Health on campus offers several different free lectures, physical activities and workshops in the subject of physical activity and health. Your education should have made it possible for students to be able to participate in Health on campus (you should be unscheduled. Bring your fellow students to a day of movement!

Find the right level of exercise

Are you afraid you might exercise too much? Is your exercise taking over other important things in life, such as your recovery, health, relationships or studies? If you experience strong anxiety, irritation, low-spiritidness or sense of guilt if you do not exercise, then please contact the Student Health Service for support.

Latest update: 2024-04-04