Mental Health Week and the Benefits of Exercise
What is Mental Health Week all about?
Did you know that 1 in 4 people will suffer from some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime? October 4th to 10th was Mental Health Week across Australia. Mental Health Week is part of a national mental health promotion campaign held in October each year to coincide with International Mental Health Day.
It aims to engage communities in activities that promote mental wellbeing, raise awareness and understanding of the needs, experiences and issues concerning people with a mental illness and their families.
You may have been fortunate to have been involved in some of the fantastic community events run over the past week or caught one of the many radio and television programmes designed to raise awareness and help to de-stigmatize this important health issue.
Did you know that there is a strong link between a healthy body and a healthy mind?
In Australia, mental disorders are the third largest source of disease after cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise has proven to be effective in the prevention of all three of these diseases. Experts believe that exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can also boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better.
As well as releasing natural chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel happier, having an active lifestyle can do more to help your mental health. Taking part in physical activity is a great way to meet people, it can be a chance to give yourself a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and to find some quiet time.
Leading an active life can help raise your self-worth and improve your confidence. It can help you feel valued and help you to value yourself. Exercise and physical activity can provide something worthwhile in your life that you really enjoy, giving you a goal to aim for and a sense of purpose!
According to studies reviewed by the American Journal of Exercise Physiology (Jorm, 2013), there is a strong relationship between physical activity and mental health. Research has shown that exercise may help improve symptoms of mental disorders in particular depression and anxiety. It may also improve functioning and physical health in individuals with psychotic disorders.
Whilst there is limited research on which to guide exercise prescriptions, it is believed that both aerobic and resistance exercise may be effective, as well as programs that consist of 3 sessions per week of at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise for a minimum of 8 weeks. Higher doses may be more effective, but may be harder to stick to, particularly given the additional barriers to exercise that individuals with mental disorders may face.
Start your journey towards a Healthy Mind and Body!
Exercise programs should be developed with an appropriately qualified Health & Fitness Professional in conjunction with your primary treating medical professional and adapted to accommodate circumstances and preferences and to minimize barriers to exercise. As mental disorders increase so do the risk of chronic physical conditions. Exercise can be useful for both mental and physical health, and may maintain well-being and prevent recurrences of poor mental health.
Contact me now to book your complimentary pre-exercise screening and health check and start your journey towards a healthier mind and body!
Jorm, A. J.-J. (2013). Exercise and Mental Health: An Exercise and Sports Journal of Exercise Physiology, 64-73.
Mental Health Foundation UK