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The benefits of exercise on mental health

Each year, one in five Australians are affected by mental illness, and almost half of all Aussies will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life.

Many Australians are affected, either directly or indirectly – as for every person who is experiencing a mental health issue, there are carers, friends and families who are supporting them.

Last Thursday 10 October was World Mental Health Day, and this year the campaign aimed to challenge perceptions about mental illness in Australia, encouraging everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light, in a hope to reduce stigma and make way for more people to seek the help and support they deserve.

The benefits of physical exercise for your mental health cannot be overstated 

According to a study done by the Black Dog Institute, even just one hour a week of exercise can protect against mental health issues such as depression. Not only that, but they also outline further benefits of exercise on mental health:

  • Improves memory, focus and thinking skills
  • Improves sleep so you feel more energised the next day
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Prevents against depression
  • Builds your coping and resilience
  • Can help distract from negative thoughts
  • Gives you a sense of accomplishment
  • Offers opportunities to socialise with others

Beyond Blue has some tips about how to start exercising if you’re struggling to get started:

  • Start small
  • Make it part of your routine
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Set goals and monitor your progress
  • Make a commitment to others.

And of course – be kind to yourself! Doing something small is a step forward, no matter what it is.

If you are currently impacted by mental health concerns, have a chat to your GP about how to safely incorporate physical exercise into your treatment plan.


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