Exercise and mental health

Many of us know the physical benefits of exercise. It can reduce the likelihood of illnesses including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. Did you know it could also improve mental health conditions?

Growing evidence suggests that exercise is an effective treatment for many forms of mental illness. These studies even go as far as suggesting that in many cases, exercise can be more effective than pharmaceuticals for treating depression.

Exercise makes you feel good because it releases feel-good chemicals. These chemicals improve your mood and can help you overcome the feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Important things to remember when turning to exercise for treatment include:

• Setting short-term, realistic goals for your exercise each week. If you currently don’t partake in any activity, begin by walking three times a week. If you already exercise regularly, switch up your routine. Try exercising at different times of day.
• Aerobic and weight lifting exercises have proven to be most effective in treating mental health conditions. For best results and to keep motivated try introducing new or different activities. Swimming, dancing and joining a sports team can greatly improve your mental wellbeing. These activities provide you with a social aspect to exercise, which can also keep your moods elevated!
• Benefits of exercise for mental health can happen immediately but longstanding improvements may take time. Strive to make regular exercise a routine for life!

Mental health is a very serious issue. If you are feeling down speak to your friends, family or a GP. Counselling is available through www.lifeline.org.au/ or by calling 13 11 14

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