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Improve your mental health with exercise

Simply put, mental health is about feeling and functioning well. When we have good mental health, we maintain a sense of purpose in the things we do and have the ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. When mental health and well-being deteriorates, we can experience symptoms or stress that negatively affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.

Regular exercise can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.

Over 45% of Australians will at some point in their lives, be diagnosed with a significant mental illness; such as anxiety, depression or a substance abuse disorder. However, even without a formal diagnosis poor mental health can still be experienced.

Irrespective of where we sit on the spectrum of mental health, there are steps that we can take to make sure that we feel well, and function at our best.

There are many ways that exercise improves mood and positively influences mental health:

  • Exercise promotes the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain, like endorphins and serotonin.

  • Exercise training can increase brain size and improve memory - reducing the risk of dementia.

  • It improves sleep quality so you rest deeply at night and feel more energised during the day.

  • Exercise can give feelings of success as fitness improves and goals are reached.

  • Group exercise provides social connection and reduces feelings of isolation.

As the days are getting longer and warmer, exercising outdoors can provide added benefits to mental health, including the absorption of Vitamin D and interacting with nature. Evidence suggests that Vitamin D is also important for the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain like serotonin and that being in nature improves mental focus and happiness scores.

In order to reap the mental health benefits of exercise, it’s generally recommended to do about 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least 5 times per week. Vigorous exercise means putting in enough effort that it’s hard to have a conversation while exercising.

Don’t worry if these guidelines feel too difficult initially. It’s important to remember that while more exercise is better than less, any exercise is better than no exercise. Even taking a walk outside for as little as 10 minutes has been shown to boost mood and mental focus.

If you would like more information on which type of exercise will be most beneficial for you, or need help finding a way to keep active, contact us on 8969 6300 or


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