Why I . . . practise kung fuBMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2589 (Published 06 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2589
All rapid responses
Thank you for sharing Professor Pariante’s insightful comments about how kung fu helps with his mental and physical health!
Kung Fu may not be the most common hobby, but this article makes clear how physical activity can provide stability and control over your mental health. Most physical activity requires an element of skill, which encourages individuals to focus on the task at hand. Whether this focus is used as a distraction or to develop your ability to be more productive in your occupation, it is beneficial. Regular engagement provides routine, which has been proven to be relieving particularly in patients with anxiety.  However, this sense of skill, focus and stability is something that all individuals should proactively engage in, not just those who have a pre-existing mental health disorder. It could be argued that it’s prophylaxis or a stabiliser for significant life changes that could otherwise compromise mental health.
Martial arts seem to be an elegant way to care for your mental wellbeing, however many people seek more accessible or simpler ways to relax. In this day and age with massive technological advancements, it is very easy to indulge yourself on the internet. Many students (including myself), are guilty of spending a significant amount of time on streaming sites like Netflix to “destress”. However, we all know this is counterintuitive. Many studies have proven links between increased screen time and poorer physical and mental wellbeing. 
Understandably, lockdown has provided a challenge to maintaining good mental wellbeing. Following the announcement of lockdown, researchers at the University of Sheffield observed a spike in people reporting depression and anxiety.  Management strategies to aid mental health include online social support and/or physical activities. Some useful online resources are linked below:
Perhaps academics should be more vocal advocates for physical activity as an adjunct to care of mental health.
1. Krátký J, Lang M, Shaver J, Jerotijević D, Xygalatas D. Anxiety and ritualization: Can attention discriminate compulsion from routine?. Communicative & Integrative Biology. 2016;9(3):e1174799.
2. Wu X, Tao S, Zhang Y, Zhang S, Tao F. Low Physical Activity and High Screen Time Can Increase the Risks of Mental Health Problems and Poor Sleep Quality among Chinese College Students. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0119607.
3. Sheffield TUO. Depression and anxiety spiked after lockdown announcement, coronavirus mental health study show 2020. URL: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/depression-anxiety-spiked-after-lock... (Accessed 12 July 2020).
Competing interests: No competing interests