The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: a prescription that keeps on giving?

 We often separate the “mind” and the “body” which allows us to make the distinction between mental and physical health. However, recent evidence suggests the opposite; exercise is not only important to maintain our mental health but in fact can be used in the treatment of many mental illnesses including depression and schizophrenia.



Essentially, we all have mental health and it is just as important as our physical health. So how can we combine the two to ensure better wellbeing?


Physical exercise!

Experts suggest 30 minutes of exercise five times per week but this doesn’t necessarily mean playing a sport or going to the gym! Simply walking to the shop, gardening and housework can all contribute towards improving your general physical and mental health.




1. Reduces stress and alleviates anxiety 

When exercising your body increases its levels of noradrenaline, a chemical that moderates the brains response to stress. Noradrenaline and endorphins (happy chemical) released during exercise are a great stress reliever, particularly for people that suffer from anxiety. Endorphins also create feelings of happiness and boost your spirits.


In particular, those who suffer from anxiety or anxiety-type symptoms can incorporate mindfulness into their exercise. For example paying attention to the rhythm of your walk or your feet hitting the ground - this will not only benefit you physically but also allow you to forget some of the anxieties or worries you may be experiencing.


2. Improves sleep

Sleep is so important for our mental health and sometimes stress and anxieties from the day can interfere with your ability to sleep. Not only can exercise wear you out and help you sleep better it can generally help you relax more and allow for a better sleeping pattern.


3. Improves focus and drives productivity 

People who exercise and take time for physical activity on a regular basis have more energy and tend to be more productive with their time than someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle.


Reaping the mental health benefits of exercise is simpler than people think - why not factor it into your week. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

See more in our Exercise and the Brain Video


“There is no health without mental health” - the World Federation for Mental Health.