Exercise and Mental Health

Exercise and Mental Health

Exercise and Mental Health: Understanding how physical activity can support women susceptible to mental health conditions


A new study has shown that physical activity has an important role in the treatment and management of mental health conditions in women. Exercise & Sports Science Australia stresses the need to seek professional support if undertaking increased exercise.

'We always push the message that physical activity is good for your body, but at times we forget the strong positive effects physical activity has on the mind. Just a 30 minute walk a day could help women start their journey to better mental health," says Katie Lyndon, ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing identified almost of 50% of Australians have experienced a mental disorder and that females are more likely to have a mental disorder.

'These statistics show that women are more susceptible to mental health conditions. This could be for a variety of different reasons, ranging from increased stress for working mothers, through to hormonal changes in the body."

The study conducted suggested that women who performed 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 200 minutes of walking on a weekly basis, not only had increased physical health but also felt better emotionally, were more socially connected and aided their management of symptoms of depression.

There is a strong relationship between physical activity and mental health. Exercise may help improve symptoms of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, and improve functioning and physical health in individuals with psychotic disorders. 'According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, depression is expected to be the second-leading cause of global disease by 2030 and the leading cause in high-income countries. ESSA believes it is about time we starting taking stronger action in this area before it's too late."

'Many accredited exercise physiologists specialise in this key area of mental health, and we hear of many great case studies where exercise has played a key role in improving mental health."

'Even just a small increase in your physical activity levels will reap numerous benefits that both your body and mind will thank you for. If you have an existing mental health condition, speak with your GP or accredited exercise physiologist first to understand what physical activity may suit your needs best."