Exercise and Mental Wellbeing
Where exercise was once viewed as a distraction from our thoughts, it is now recognised as an evidence-based, central component to any program for mental health conditions. Exercise is a ‘tool in the tool belt’ for people living with mental health challenges. It is a strategy to manage symptoms, improve physical health, sleep quality, and overall quality of life.
Every year, 1 in 5 Australians will experience being mentally unwell. Those with a mental illness often struggle to engage in their regular work, social and physical activities to the full extent. This further impacts the illness and leads to social isolation.
Why Exercise is Important?
There is mounting evidence that confirms that exercise makes a big difference in mood and promoting positive mental wellbeing, whilst also reducing the symptoms. Exercise, when provided suitably and in a way that is specific and individual to the needs of the client, is an excellent addition to other treatment for the ongoing journey towards good mental health.
Regular physical activity prescribed by an Exercise Physiologist has been shown to:
- Improve cardio-respiratory fitness and reduce all-cause mortality risk
- Help control weight gain induced by medication
- Improve chronic disease outcomes (comorbidities)
- Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Improve sleep quality and increase self-esteem
- Improve confidence and goal achievement
- Create structure and routine
Research on the dose-response relationship suggests that the key is to exercise at least 30 minutes, on three occasions each week1. A ‘daily dose’ of exercise on most days is even better, if achievable. It’s important to find what works for you.
EXPHYS® recognise that everyone is unique, particularly when managing mental health issues. You need someone to partner with, who is experienced, connects with you, and understands what it takes to put you on the right path.
EXPHYS®’ top tips to boost your mental health with exercise
- Early intervention is the key. The earlier you can implement a quality exercise plan following onset of mental health challenges, the better. Exercise is of benefit during any stage of the recovery process and EXPHYS® has had great success with clients who have had long-term mental health challenges.
- Start somewhere. Any form of exercise and physical activity is better than not doing anything. It’s always worth it. Focus on the positives that you have achieved something, no matter how big or small.
- Do more bit-by-bit, day-by-day. Our experienced consultants at EXPHYS® find that gradually building up your participation in planned physical activity is the best. Just like you strengthen a muscle by gradually doing more, you strengthen your mental health by achieving more by gradually challenging yourself. Record your achievements on a calendar. Celebrate them!
- Make it fun! Nothing beats the sense of enjoyment.
- Set goals and create structure. Set meaningful exercise related goals that link in with your life and work goals.
EXPHYS® provides a structured and individualised Mental Health program to help you get control back in your life. Find out more via our website or call us on 1300 853 345.
1 Morgan, A.J., Parker, A.G., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., Jorm, A.F. (2013) Exercise and Mental Health: An Exercise and Sports Science Australia Commissioned Review. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online; 16(4):64-73