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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.
There are lots of benefits to being more active, and any amount of physical activity can help. You don't have to begin a vigorous training plan to start feeling better.
How much activity you decide to do is personal to you. This will depend on your current level of activity and fitness, and what you can fit in with your day-to-day life.
There may also be things that affect how much activity is safe for you to do, such as medication you might be taking, an eating problem, anxiety, OCD, or a physical health condition. See our information on what to do before you start exercising if you think these things may affect you.
What's important is that you work out what feels realistic for you at the moment. This may change from time to time, depending on how you are feeling, and what you are able to do.
The NHS website has information about how much exercise a person is recommended to do each week, and how intense (moderate or vigorous) this activity would ideally be. The NHS's information includes examples of activities which count as moderate or vigorous exercise.
However, it's important to remember that this is just a guide based on the average person, and it's OK if you don’t feel like you can achieve this right now. The important thing is to start to try to increase your activity levels, and to find something that works for you.
Doing too much physical activity can be as unhealthy as doing too little. This is called overtraining or overexercise.
Overtraining can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health. For example, it can:
It can be really hard to spot that you are starting to overtrain. Some signs that you may be overtraining include:
If you feel like you are overtraining, it can help to:
This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.