Exercise is good for both our mental and physical health, but it’s not just through more conventional activities like running and hitting the gym that you can reap the benefits. Here are five adventurous ideas packed with mental health benefits
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful
Jumping out of a plane may not, at first, seem like an enjoyable activity – but it turns out it could be just what your mind needs. Skydiving releases a huge number of endorphins which can help ease mild depression, and psychologists say falling through the sky can help us to put our emotions into perspective. Plus, you don’t have to jump alone; tandem skydiving lets you enjoy the ride while safe in the hands of an expert.
All sports are great for your health, but team sports in particular have been found to have beneficial effects. Working with others towards a shared goal is a lovely way to bond with others, and our social connections play a big role in emotional wellbeing.
If you’re already an avid walker and want to step up your game, try Nordic walking. Using two poles to harness the power of your upper body, the Nordic walking technique helps you propel yourself forward, and turns walking into a full-body exercise. The poles also take some weight off the knees and lower body joints, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
From Cornwall to Scotland, the coastlines of the UK have some great surfing spots. Being at one with nature, and the adrenaline rush you get after catching the perfect wave, makes it an unsurprisingly great activity for your mental health. Apparently, just 30 minutes spent catching waves can reduce negative thoughts and decrease self-destructive behaviour.
Horses are used as therapy aids because they’re incredibly intuitive and have the ability to mirror your feelings; this can make horse riding especially beneficial for those living with mental illness. Horse riding is also accessible for all abilities – the Riding for the Disabled Association has nearly 500 centres across the UK – learn more at rda.org.uk.
Getting active doesn’t have to be a case of dragging yourself to your local gym – there are lots of more adventurous options which you could try and, maybe, really enjoy!