A new study has shed some more light on the link between exercise and mental health. In this new research they found that it’s not actually how fit we are that makes a difference, it’s how often we move that can truly benefit our minds.
The study concluded that those who moved more frequently had better mental health. But, what’s the most ideal amount of exercise?
Well this is still to be determined, but this study found that those who exercised 1-2 times a week were less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Why should I worry about my mental health?
Well to begin with the statistics show that poor mental health can affect almost everyone. In Australia, statistics shows that almost 12% of our population has reported living with a common mental disorder (such as depression and anxiety).
Each and every one of us is susceptible to ‘feeling down’ at some stage. As a society, we don’t think about taking care of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. This is starting to change, particularly as more and more research proves we can influence our mental health through exercise.
How does exercise support my mood?
Think of exercise as a natural mood booster!
When we start to move, our body releases ‘endorphins’. When we exercise, we release around 40 types of endorphins (anti-stress hormones) which work on different parts of the brain.
Exercise also assists in regulating the same neurotransmitters that antidepressants target.
All in all, exercise can sometimes be as powerful as a drug!
How else does exercise support your mental health?
Where do we begin? Exercise can affect us in many ways, let’s take a quick look at some!
- Exercise can release norepinephrine, which wakes up the brain and gets it going – who needs coffee!
- Movement makes us release dopamine into our bodies, this ‘feel good drug’ gives us an overall sense of well-being.
- Exercise can help regulate our fight or flight system, helping us keep a better sense of calm. If we can remain calm during times of stress and heightened emotions we are less likely to develop deeper mental health issues.
- BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) can be produced that protect our neurons (nerve cells in the brain) against cortisol in areas that control mood.
- General confidence and our self-esteem can increase when we move more – who doesn’t love feeling better about themselves!
Where should I begin?
The best place to start is simply by moving!
A 30 minute walk each day, starting up an old sport you used to enjoy or even getting busy in the garden is a great way to start adding more activity into your day.
For anyone who is living with an injury or a chronic condition – or if you’d simply like a professional to help motivate you – this is where we come in.
Our wonderful team of Accredited Exercise Physiologists are backed by years of university training to help you find the movement that will suit you. Get in touch with our friendly team and let’s get you started on the road to better physical and mental health!