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Why an active life is important for mental and physical well being

Mr Payne, Director of Sport at Bethany School, gives an update from his department including summer term matches and the importance of physical activity and mental health.

It is a busy term for those taking an academic Sport course: the Yr13 BTEC pupils have been working with outstanding focus towards their Sports Psychology exam; the Yr12 BTEC pupils are working tirelessly to finish their coursework ready to be sent to the exam verifier; the Yr11 BTEC pupils have been stepping up to the challenge of completing their final coursework component; and, with a little less pressure, the Yr10 BTEC pupils have been undertaking, with great commitment, fitness testing for their course.

Outside the classroom the cricket and tennis teams have been gearing up for their season openers and got their competitive fixtures underway this week with the U15 A” boys cricket playing Battle Abbey School, the 1st XI cricket boys playing Tonbridge School and the U13 A” & B” cricket girls playing Dover College. The U15 boys’ tennis team also got their season underway against Cranbrook School. We look forward to many more competitive matches this term with lots of success and, fingers crossed, some glorious British summer sunshine!!

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As we return to normal and the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, with perhaps a little less spare time then the pandemic brought due to lockdowns, I do encourage all to remember a healthy active lifestyle is important and to take time out for whatever exercise is possible to look after our general health. 

Research by the Mental Health Organisation advises that physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood.  A study asked people to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity (e.g. going for a walk), and periods of inactivity (e.g. reading a book or watching television). Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity. They also found that the effect of physical activity on mood was greatest when mood was initially low.

There are many studies looking at physical activity at different levels of intensity and its impact on people’s mood. Overall, research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise – for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, for 10–12 weeks – was best at increasing positive moods (e.g. enthusiasm, alertness).