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How Can Exercise Benefit Mental Health?

Exercise and Mental Health. Mental health issues can have an impact on a person’s cognitive, behavioural and social functioning. Those with mental health issues often struggle to engage in their regular work, social and physical activities to the full extent which further impacts the issue as social isolation then often occurs.
Girl in yoga pose on rocks in front of ocean
© CQUniversity 2021

Exercise and Mental Health

Mental health issues can have an impact on a person’s cognitive, behavioural and social functioning. Those with mental health issues often struggle to engage in their regular work, social and physical activities to the full extent which further impacts the issue as social isolation then often occurs.
There is mounting evidence that suggests exercise is an effective treatment method for people suffering from acute and chronic mental health issues, with some studies suggesting that exercise is just as effective, if not more so than pharmacological intervention in alleviating depressive symptoms.
Exercise can make a big difference in mood and needs to be a fundamental part of mental health treatment. Even one workout a week is known to have great benefits.
Exercise can also counteract the side effects of some medications such as reducing the risk of falling by strengthening muscles and helping control body weight and blood pressure.
Exercise Right

A Brief Snapshot of Mental Illness in Australia

  • Every year, approximately one in five Australians will experience a mental illness
  • Mental illnesses are the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia, accounting for an estimated 27% of the total years lost due to disability
  • About 4% of people will experience a major depressive episode in a 12-month period, with 5% of women and 3% of men affected
  • Approximately 14% of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12-month period
  • Prevalence of mental illness decreases with age, with prevalence greatest among 18-24-year-olds
  • A national survey showed that 35% of people with a mental disorder had used a health service and 29% consulted a GP within the 12 months before the survey
  • Women are more likely than men to use services for mental health problems
  • Limited research suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience mental disorders at least as often as other Australians
  • In Australia, the prevalence of mental or behavioural disorders among people born overseas is similar to those born in Australia.

Mental Health – Recommended Readings

Australian Government
Australia’s Mental Health and Physical Health Tracker
Source: Australian Government, 2019b.
© CQUniversity 2021
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