Movement – Mental health vitamin


Movement is good for both your mental and physical health. Regular moderate physical activity (at least 150 minutes a week or 20 minutes a day) helps maintain a feeling of wellbeing, a friendlier self-image, improves the mood, reduces anxiety and increases concentration. It’s thought that these are triggered by changes in the brain’s blood circulation or changes in the hormonal balance activated by physical activity.

Physical activity opens a door to seeking out new experiences. How does one find time for moving though? Every move counts! There are several tricks to use and principles to follow.

Below, we’ve written down pieces of advice and activities that you could try by yourself, with your colleagues at work, students at school or family at home. We’ve also designed conversation cards that can help you start conversations regarding physical activity with others and added some activities to try with children.

Movement helps us keep our life in balance. Balance is key!

  • Change your workspace into a “standing” workspace! If your table is low, place your chair on the table and your work on the chair so that you can work while standing. Alternatively, you could try using an ironing board as your workspace if the height of the board can be regulated. Doing work while standing every now and then can positively affect your physical fitness as well as your concentration. In fact, it would be great if you could find at least 2 hours for standing every work or school day. You could try doing meetings or phone calls while standing as well!
  • Try fidgeting around!
  • Instead of a snack break, take a movement break – walk two laps around your house or street, or try to find some stairs to climb.
  • Be playful and build an obstacle course from your workspace to your bathroom. Add up how many bathroom breaks a day do you need to get 20 minutes of moderate physical activity done via the obstacle course.
  • Don’t overdo it with planning fitness breaks and take it easy. You can start out with placing some items like a dumbbell or jump rope on your workspace that motivate you to take a fitness break. Maybe you’ll grab onto these items the next time you need a break from working.
  • Set aside some time for mild exercise. This could be morning stretches, an afternoon online exercise programme, or an hourly reminder or alarm so that you won’t forget to get up and stretch every now and then.
  • Once a week, take rubber gloves and a garbage bag with you when going for a walk and pick up any rubbish that you find. If you have children, invite them along with you. This will motivate them not to throw things on the ground. You can use this to also teach them about being careful with picking up used masks, needles or shattered glass.
  • Dance! You can dance when you’re making breakfast, hanging clothes to dry or putting on your shoes!
  • Before getting up from bed, try to stretch yourself out like a dog or a cat, move your wrists, twist your soles and then get out of bed with the “right” foot!
  • It’s time to update your Zoom/Teams/Slack meetings! Create an open space around your computer or device. Stand up. Move around and gesticulate with your whole body while speaking to others!
  • Learn to juggle, jump rope or spin a basketball on your finger.
  • Those who remember the 80s–90s childhood games like tag, dodgeball or jumping rope can teach them to the next generations.
  • Place challenge notes on your fridge. Every time you go looking for a snack, do some squats beforehand!
  • If you drive around a lot, see if you can go and do your groceries, lunch break or workday on foot instead.
  • Before a meeting at work, agree on a common gesture that you can use at any point during the meeting for a small movement break. Use it actively!
  • Charge your phones, get headphones with a built-in microphone and weatherproof stationery and organise at least one meeting a week where you all go for a walk during the meeting.
  • Organise a shared fitness club – find some good exercise videos to work out to together or teach each other some playful workout routines instead.
  • It’s time to update your Zoom/Teams/Slack meetings! Create an open space around your computers or devices. Stand up. Move around and gesture with your whole body while speaking to others!
  • Rake some leaves! If you don’t have a garden yourself then offer your help to a friend in need.
  • Face yoga! The best time for face yoga is during video meetings!
  • Connect culture with fitness! Since many places are still closed this week then make a plan of all the places you dream of going to when the lockdown is lifted again. Climb up a church’s spire or the TV tower without using an elevator. Visit the entirety of KUMU or the Open Air Museum.
  • When possible, give suggestions to the students on how they should do any given exercise. For example, when they need to read something, tell them to try and read it while standing up or walking around the room. When they need to do a written exercise then they can also try and do it on the windowsill or over the ironing board while standing up.
  • Take various gestures into use during video lessons that the students can use to show that they are able to follow the subject matter. Examples: a thumbs up to show that they are following along and a thumbs down if they have trouble with something. When they are ready to answer a question, they could stand on one foot or rub their hands together.
  • Add “fitness” breaks to your longer video lessons. For example, you could add a slide to your presentation that tells the students to take a 10-minute break, but also challenge them to do a physical exercise of their choice.
  • Challenge your students to make a 1- or 2-minute video of a physical exercise programme as homework. Share these videos with each other!
  • Plan recesses for both yourself and the children even if you are learning from distance.
  • Mimic the movements of different birds and animals together!
  • Connect culture with fitness! Since many places are still closed this week then make a plan of all the places you dream of going to when the lockdown is lifted again. Climb up a church’s spire or the TV tower without using an elevator. Visit the entirety of KUMU or the Open Air Museum.
  • Open up Youtube, find a good music video and just dance! We recommend searching for Just Dance and find a good track to dance to at school and home.
  • Organise a treasure hunt for your students:
    • each student makes a treasure hunt game board out of 4×4 squares where each square contains a picture or a description of a thing or its features;
    • have the students switch their game boards with each other so that everyone has someone else’s treasure hunt;
    • go outside for the treasure hunt and fill your game boards with photos of the found items.
  • Organise a pen break for your students:
    • Have them take a pen in the right hand, extend their hands and let the pen fall. Now have them try catch the pen before it falls down. Do the same with the left hand.
    • Have them lift their leg in front of them and try to throw the pen from under their legs and catch it from the other side. Try the other leg next.
  • Find out the master of obstacle courses in your class:
    • challenge your students to create an obstacle course at home;
    • have them introduce their obstacle course to others via video, photos or a drawn map;
    • vote for your favourite obstacle courses to find out the master of obstacles, judging variety, difficulty, challenge, convenience and creativity.
  • Become GPS artists:
    • print out a map of your surrounding neighbourhood;
    • draw a picture out of the roads around your house;
    • download a GPS app like Strava that draws images of your walks;
    • charge your phones;
    • you’re ready to become a GPS artist by walking the route of your choice!
    • share your results at class and with us at Peaasi!




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