Today, Grayson Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwick, PymbleBalmain and Neutral Bay  discuss the effect of Exercise in treating and managing Mental Health conditions.

Mental health is an aspect of health everyone has and is just as important as physical health. It can often be confused with mental illness; although the two are inextricably linked, mental health is not just the absence of mental disorders. It is normal to fluctuate between times of good and poor mental health. This blog aims to educate how exercise can help maintain good mental health and how you can begin/continue to exercise in times of poor mental health.

What is mental health?

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

–  World Health Organisation, 2022

What can poor mental health look like?

  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Low mood
  • Reduced ability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • High levels of stress
How can exercise be beneficial?

The benefits of exercise on mental health is widely research and scientifically supported. in a review of 1, 158 studies, 90% of them showed a significant positive relationship between exercise and good mental health. (IHRSA, 2021)

Exercise can have a wide variety of benefits on your mental health – both physiologically and psychologically. These include:

  • Release of serotonin and endorphins: these improve your mood
  • Social benefit: reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation. Furthermore it can help build support networks and friendships
  • Reduces stress and anxiety: can act as mindfulness, relaxation or a distraction
  • Improves sleep quality 
What Exercise should you do?

The gold-standard exercise guidelines for healthy living are 2 to 2.5 hours per week of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of vigorous intensity physical activity. In addition strength training should be completed at least 2-3 times a week. (Better Health Victoria, 2022)

To someone in a phase of poor mental health meeting these guidelines can seem a daunting task. The notion of “something is better than nothing” needs to be emphasised. What does this mean?

  1. Doing any form of physical activity is better than none
  2. It can take time to build up to these guidelines and that is normal
  3. Start with what you feel up to and have the motivation to complete: doing too much too early can lead to burn-out and have less benefits long term.
  4. The bouts of exercise can be broken up throughout the day e.g 3 x 10 minute blocks at 10am, 2pm, 5pm

“Something is better than nothing”

What are some tips to help someone exercise in periods of poor mental health?

Find something you enjoy and are comfortable doing.

There are endless options for exercise and physical activity out there to suit an individuals needs. There’s a right kind of exercise for everyone – it’s just a matter of finding it. Whether you enjoy the camaraderie of team sports or prefer to follow a 5-minute mindfulness yoga video on youtube; there’s a wide range of options.

Build a routine.

Consistency in performing exercise is key for obtaining the benefits of exercise. Find a time in your day/week that you can put aside for exercise consistently. It can help to organise exercise with a friend or a team – you can hold each other accountable (the social benefit has shown improvements in mental health too).

Ask for help if you’re not sure.

There are many health professionals and support networks available to help you find the right kind of exercise. Whether you’re not sure what kind of exercise to do or how to do them safely – reach out to those around you! Friends can often suggest what exercise they do and enjoy; you could do them together. Health professionals including Exercise physiologists are trained to find the most suitable kind and dose of exercise for people.

Examples of Physical Activity – Good starting places:

  • A walk around the block – by yourself, with family or friends
  • Join a local sporting team
  • Youtube videos: Yoga, exercise routines, pilates. (varying durations)
  • Book in a session with an Exercise Physiologist or Personal trainer
  • Find a game you can play with friends i.e tennis, spike ball, golf
  • Swim or walk at a beach or pool
  • Gym classes
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health please reach out to the following resources. It’s not weak to seek help and to take care of your mental health.

Beyond blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Life line: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Black dog institute: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/

If you want an individualised exercise program to help manage your mental health, call Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista, and Neutral Bay on 1300 964 002 to book in a session today!

 

Written by Grayson Kieran

 

References:

Better Health Victoria. (2022). Exercise and mental health – Better Health Channel. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-and-mental-health

Beyond Blue. (2022). Get immediate help for depression and anxiety – Beyond Blue. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Black Dog Institue. (2022). Mental health resources and tools – Black Dog Institute. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/

Health Direct. (2022). Physical activity and exercise. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians

IHRSA. (2021). New Report: Exercise Plays Key Role in Mental Health & Well-being. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.ihrsa.org/improve-your-club/new-report-exercise-plays-key-role-in-mental-health-well-being/#

World Health Organisation. (2022). Mental health: strengthening our response. Retrieved 14 March 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response