Information about how physical activity can help your mental health, and tips for choosing an activity that works for you, and how to overcome anything that might stop you from becoming more active.
If you have a mental health problem, or if you're physically unwell, there may be certain things that might affect the type and amount of activity you can do. It's important to think about these before you start getting active, to make sure what you're doing is safe.
For example, you may need to think about how much activity, and what types of activity, you can do if you:
Some medication can cause side effects that affect the type and amount of physical activity that is safe for you to do. Always check with your GP before you start a new routine, or if you change your medication or dose.
If you experience anxiety or panic attacks, you might find that some of the physical sensations you get while exercising, such as raised heart rate, feeling shaky or dizzy, breathlessness or feeling hot, can feel similar to a panic attack. This can then cause you to feel anxious, and may cause a panic attack.
If you experience this:
Many people with eating problems have a complex relationship with exercise, and overtraining can become an unhealthy part of your condition. However, physical activity can still be a positive part of your recovery – you may just need to be more careful about the type and amount of activity you do.
If you have, or are recovering from, an eating problem, it is a good idea to talk this through with your GP before you start an activity.
Some people experience compulsive or addictive feelings about physical activity (sometimes called an exercise addiction), which can lead to harmful overtraining. These feelings can be a form, or a symptom, of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or part of an eating problem.
If you tend to experience compulsive or addictive feelings about exercise, or start to experience them once you start doing more physical activity, it is a good idea to talk to your GP about how to manage this or think about seeking help.
For many people with a physical health condition, doing an appropriate amount of physical activity can be an important part of managing your condition and avoiding future health problems. However, depending on your condition, you may need to be more careful about the type and amount of activity you do, to make sure what you are doing is safe and won't have a negative impact on your heath.
You should be particularly careful if you have:
Always check with your GP about what is safe for you before you start any physical activity.
This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
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