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Exercise Physiology for Mental Health

adult woman in yoga classDid you know that mental illness is the third highest disease burden in Australia? That just under one and a half out of five Australians will experience it at some stage within their life? Its well known that exercise can have a great impact on physical health – but did you know it can also improve mental health and wellness?

How can exercise improve mental health?

Research suggest that physical activity and exercise can improve mental wellbeing and and also lower the risk of experiencing a decline in mental health.

When you move your body it ignites a cascade of physiological responses that cause this to occur, lets take a deeper look below! When you move your body, blood is delivered to working muscles to deliver a cocktail of goodies, full of oxygen and nutrients to allow them to keep performing their job! During exercise, blood flow and circulation is also slightly increased to the brain which in hand increases the readily available oxygen and nutrients to provide the brain with support and ridding he build up of toxins more efficiency. The effects of this can also be felt post movement – have you ever wondered how you think clearer after your morning walk or run?

Not only does this increase in blood flow increase mental clarity, attention span and working memory, it also causes a release of ‘feel good hormones’ (serotonin and dopamine) which help to regulate moods, sleep, trigger positive feelings and decrease the perception of pain. Not only does the release of these factors improve brain function, these positive changes in the environment within and around the brain also support the creation and reformation of new brain pathways, referred to as neuroplasicity. These processes also increase the ability to improve the ability to learn/relearn life skills such as communication, living and employment skills.

What are the benefits of exercise for mental health?

  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve confidence
  • Improve self esteem
  • Improve symptoms such as anxiety and/or depression
  • Improve symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Improve quality of life
  • Improve weight management from medication side effects
  • Improve psychosocial function
  • Improve overall fitness and health
  • Improve life expectancy and lower mortality risk
  • Improve mortality risk such as the development of other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease

We hope this has provided you with information how exercise can be utilised as a tool to elevate not just your physical – but your mental health. If you are looking to begin exercising for the first time or looking to being again after a long time period we encourage you to consult a medical professional (your GP) before beginning any new form of exercise and work with a sports and exercise professional or an allied health professional such as an exercise physiologist if you have any other chronic conditions or injuries to ensure you will be guided through in a safe space and manner safely

Here at Vitality Semaphore we have Accredited Exercise Physiologist Jasmine Faddy who is passionate about using exercise as a tool to compliment other forms of support on your mental health journey. To find out more visit or ring our clinic phone on (08) 8242 1581.

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