Exercise and Mental Health
Staying active is not only critical for maintaining physical fitness during the COVID-19 restrictions, but also for providing important mental health benefits during the current period of social isolation. Physical activity is a key factor for the prevention and management of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) and eating disorders.
Physical activity, even in low doses, could lower the risk of mental illness in the community. The current Australian guidelines for exercise are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two sessions of resistance-based exercises per week, but for mental health a little bit of activity is better than doing nothing at all. Even one session per week has been shown to have great improvements.
Mental disorders are already among the leading causes of disease and disability globally. There is mounting evidence that suggests that exercise is an effective component of treatment for people living with acute and chronic mental illness. With exercise making a big difference in mood and promoting a positive mental health, whilst also helping to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, there is a significant need for exercise to be a fundamental part of mental health treatment, particularly whilst we are in isolation.
While gyms and fitness classes are now shut down, exercise is still considered an essential activity. Here are some tips for maintaining or building movement into your day:
- Keep motivated by scheduling exercise into your diary as you would for a gym class
- Put on your favourite music and do some simple body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, and push ups
- Make use of online exercise classes to guide your home exercise. You can find some great online Pilates classes here
- Get outside into the fresh air if you can, take a walk along the beach or kick the football in the backyard
- Book in for an online consultation or alternatively a one-on-one session with our Accredited Exercise Physiologist for clinical exercise advice and treatment here
It is important to remember that it’s not about what type of exercise is the best kind, but rather to find something you enjoy doing as you are more likely to stick with it and achieve the mental health benefits. The most important thing is to find time every day to move your body – even if it is a couple of laps around the block. Regular exercise will help boost your state of mind and protect your mental well-being.
If you or someone you love needs help, there is always someone to talk to at Lifeline on 13 11 14