The Importance of Regular Physical Activity When Improving Your Mental Health

The Australian Burden of Disease Study (2023) develops estimates concerning the millions of years of healthy life Australians lose due to injury, illness or premature death. This study found that mental health conditions are among one of the second largest groups of illnesses causing premature death among Australians in 2023 and estimated that Australians lost around 5.6 million years of healthy life due to living with disease and dying prematurely.

Implementing a regular exercise routine into your daily life has been shown to greatly benefit not only an individual’s psychological wellbeing, but also their physical health as well. It has been demonstrated that lower physical activity levels or a greater amount of time spent being sedentary are correlated to a greater risk of poor mental health (Smith and Merwin, 2021).

Mental health conditions are not just psychological, they can also negatively impact the physical health of a person and can lead to an increased risk of developing comorbidities. Studies have found that those with a mental illness are at a 75% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and are around 85% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease when compared to a population without reduced mental health (Simon Rosenbaum, 2017). However, engaging in regular physical activity can provide a protective effect and assist in decreasing the risk of developing further health conditions and assist in the management of the symptoms associated with reduced psychological wellbeing.

Studies show that both resistance training and aerobic exercise can be beneficial at significantly improving symptoms commonly associated with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in comparison to those who do not engage in regular physical activity. Due to this, working towards engaging in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week including both resistance and aerobic training can assist in decreasing the risk of developing secondary conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus that can commonly develop as a result of having poor mental health. Increasing physical activity levels can also assist in improving mood, sleep quality and other symptoms that are commonly associated with a reduced psychological wellbeing.

Some people are capable of self-managing and commencing independently, others benefit from a team care approach. Common team members may include your General Practitioner, Psychologist, and of course your Exercise Physiologist. Your Exercise Physiologist will listen to you to find out your goals, and then collaborate with you to develop a plan that is suitable and motivating for you. If you are stuck, feel free to contact Uplift and we can point you in the right direction.

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