Physical activity

is important for everyone’s health and wellbeing

If you’re feeling down or finding things difficult, physical activity may be the last thing you feel like doing, but its powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Dr Nicola Burton, senior researcher at the University of Queensland, says when it comes to exercise “we’re not only talking about preventing poor mental health or treating it, but promoting good mental health.”

Why
Regular exercise:
  • Lifts mood by changing levels of chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins). Studies show exercise is effective in preventing depression and also treating mild depression and reducing symptoms of anxiety.
  • Improves self-esteem. Exercise is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it fosters your sense of self-worth and makes you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.
  • Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
  • Increases Increasing your heart rate will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with a few minutes of exercise a day, and increase it as you feel more energized.
  • Stronger resilience. Exercise can help you cope with mental or emotional challenges in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other behaviors that only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
  • Improves sleep. Even short bursts of exercise can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can promote sleep.
  • Provides an opportunity to socialise and reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Offers distraction from negative thoughts and a chance to have new experiences
How

Find a physical activity that you enjoy (e.g. swimming, playing sports with friends or cycling) and make a plan to do it regularly.

The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week.

Tips to help you get started
  • Start simple – increase your activity levels gradually to improve your self-confidence and build motivation for more energetic activities. Start with simple activities such as shopping, driving, gardening or small household tasks.
  • Do what is enjoyable – people with anxiety or depression often lose interest and pleasure in doing things they once enjoyed. Plan activities that you used to find enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying with friends or family – with time the pleasure you feel from doing these activities will return.
  • Include other people – people with anxiety or depression often withdraw from others, but continuing to socialise is an important part of recovery. Staying connected with friends and family can help increase wellbeing, confidence and provide opportunities to socialise.
  • Make a plan – planning a routine can help people become more active. Make sure some form of exercise is included each day. Try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but be flexible.

Check out active events on the Let’s Talk Calendar!

Upcoming Physical activity events