It is Mental Health Week this week and specifically World Mental Health Day on 10th of October. There is more and more research coming out about the benefits of movement and physical activity on mental health.
The current thoughts behind the way exercise can improve mental health are:
- Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids)
- Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
- Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
How does physical activity help my mental health?
- Improve your mood
- Reduce stress and anxiety levels
- Increases in confidence
- Increase self-efficacy and self-esteem
- Improves your sleep
- Increase mental alertness
- Reduces tension
- Sense of achievement
- Provides a focus and motivation
- It can be used as a social activity
Tips on how to get started:
- Begin slowly, split your physical activity up throughout your day – 10mins, 10 mins, 10mins.
- Find something you enjoy – eg. walking, riding a bike, dancing.
- Set realistic goals.
- Organise to meet up with a friend.
- Plan your activity for the week.
- Seek advice from an exercise physiologist about what is the best exercise for you.
Some movement is better than nothing!
Where to get help:
- Your doctor
- Community health centre
- Beyondblue Support Service 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
Morgan AJ, Parker AG, Alvarez-Jimenez M, Jorm AF. Exercise and Mental Health: An Exercise and Sports Science Australia Commissioned Review. JEPonline 2013;16(4):64-73.
Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for Mental Health. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106.