Mental Health: the role and perspective of an Exercise Physiologist

Mental Health: the role and perspective of an Exercise Physiologist

Mental health is an all-important factor in achieving overall wellness. Unfortunately to many, mental health is still taboo or not taken seriously. Did you know that:

  • Nearly ½ of Australians aged 16-85 had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime? 
  • 20% of Australian’s will experience a common mental health condition within any year
  • Australian youth aged 18-24 have the highest prevalence of mental health conditions
  • The most common mental health conditions in Australia are anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and substance use disorders
  • 54% of people with mental illness do not seek treatment

So as an Exercise Physiologist what is my perspective and my role in mental health care?

Well, I’m glad you asked. As an Exercise Physiologist we work alongside those who have various mental illnesses and help them throughout their rehabilitative journey to live healthier and happier. How do we do this? We do this by assisting to set and create goals and prescribe appropriate exercise programs which differ person to person. My perspective is that exercise has a whole heap of health benefits and can be super fun to do, so why not give it a try?

How do we help and why should you exercise?

Well, as the job title suggests, an Exercise Physiologist uses exercise to treat or manage a wide variety of injuries, diseases and illnesses. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that exercise assists with reducing symptoms of many mental illnesses such as depressive or anxiety disorders. An Exercise Physiologist works alongside you helping to create goals and provides guidance, exercise and strategies as to achieve these goals.

Exercise has been shown to provide the following benefits for those who may be suffering from a mental illness:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Provide distraction from worry and rumination
  • Additional mental and social support when exercise is performed with others
  • Improve sense of control in life and self-esteem
  • Offset or reduce symptoms/side effects from medication which can be taken for treatment of mental health conditions

How much exercise do I need to do and what type of exercise?

Well, this is a tough question to answer, as it is very contextual. All exercise is beneficial. However, a deeper dive needs to be done to also see what other goals you may want to achieve. For example, if you want to increase your upper body strength, jogging will definitely not be helpful for achieving that goal. Therefore, the exercise you perform needs to be specific to you for the most benefit to be gained!

Overall, 150 minutes per week of your favoured exercise is the sweet spot for improvements in mental health. Also, don’t think you need to achieve this straight away, to achieve 150 minutes per week of exercise is a long-term goal to be worked up to.

I cannot stress enough how beneficial exercise can be for some in regards to their mental health. If exercise is something you want to get into, seeing an Exercise Physiologist is your best bet.

If you need support call one of the following numbers

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