Will ditching chocolate adverts before 9pm help, asks our health and wellbeing expert

Few, if any people will have complete physical, mental and social wellbeing all the time. Trevor Smith, a senior member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, talks about mental health and wellbeing

Making healthy lifestyle choices is so beneficial to your body, helping you to boost your immune system. These choices will help your immune system to have the best possible chance to prevent, fight or recover from illness or infection. It is particularly relevant now as we look at fighting infections in any way we can. Although the risk of infection from Covid-19 is currently reducing, our summer will unfortunately be short-lived and heading into autumn there is the usual annual rise in regular every-day infections, and the chances of a spike in Covid-19 will increase.

There are five wellness factors to consider: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Social and Environmental.

We briefly touched on physical activity last week, an additional point to mention is that any form of moderate physical activity releases a chemical called serotonin (as well as endorphins and other chemicals). This has a major impact on your mood, overall wellbeing and aides a regular sleep pattern which helps your body to fight infections.

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My wife, Carolyn took, part in the challenge I set last week and has started with ‘Bounce Fit’, using my daughter’s mini trampoline and she loves it. It is the adult equivalent of jumping on your bed when you were little. I will admit that while everyone was out on Sunday, I did have a sneaky bounce myself, which I can safely say was not very controlled or graceful, but was great fun.

This week, the Government has set out a new obesity strategy asking anyone who is overweight to lose 5 lbs, this is being launched alongside the ‘Better Health’ campaign led by Public Health England. This is obviously welcome as new figures on the gov.uk website show that 63% of adults in England are now overweight or living with obesity and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese (we will definitely discuss this in a later article).

It got me thinking does it go far enough? Will taking an advert for a chocolate bar off TV before 9pm help? Will asking everyone to get back on a bike have the desired impact? Possibly not but the choices and responsibility to be healthy lie with us. In a region with so many beautiful nature spots as well as walking and cycling routes, it is our ethical responsibility to take advantage of what is on our doorstep and get physically active, its right there and it is free!

In addition to our physical wellness our mental wellness is always present. One in four adults will experience a mental health problem in any one year and one in three visits to a GP are mental health related.

There is a significant scale of mental health and we can all move along that scale on any given day. Positive mental health is when we are confident, life feels manageable and we are eating and sleeping well. Mentally unwell is feeling overwhelmed, agitated and having a lack of interest in things you usually enjoy.

Therefore, it is frustrating to hear that the term mental health is often only used in a negative context when there is an issue. Although I do see attitudes are slowly changing to be more positive, understanding and the stigma is gradually being lifted.

Strong mental wellness builds confidence and a positive mental attitude, to boost it you can do some simple tasks such as completing puzzles like jigsaws, word search or sudoku, reading or writing and listening to music.

Of course, at the other end of the scale there are some mental health issues that are more severe that can be treated with medication and require the support given by specifically trained professionals in this area.

If you would like any advice regarding your health and wellbeing, Wellbeing for Life are an organisation helping thousands of people across County Durham. You can contact them on 0800 8766887.


This week you can choose to be physically active in any way or boost your mental wellness with a brain activity like puzzles or reading a book. Share a picture of your activity or comment on your reading (recommendations of books are welcome) and tag us on Twitter at @TheNorthernEcho and @TSmith_PE

If you would like to ask a question or suggest a topic that you would like me to cover in the coming weeks, you can contact me at tsmith@premier-education.com

Trevor Smith works at Premier Education. He is a senior member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity and a member of the International Physical Literacy Association

The Northern Echo | Durham