How can Exercise Improve Mental Health | Mental Health Month

Posted on: Oct 12th, 2017 by The Physio Movement | Categories: Sports Medicine & Nutrition


TPM Fitness with Exercise Physiologist Callum

How can exercise improve Mental Health, come behind the scenes of Exerciseand Mental health with TPM Exercise Physiologist Callum. 

So with it being mental health month, I would like to explore how exercise can benefit those suffering with a mental health concern. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge how far we have come in regards to acknowledging and being aware of mental health as a health condition some people have no control over. When people are diagnosed as being clinically depressed they have physical changes within their mind, which makes it a condition that someone can not just “get over”, similar to when one breaks their arm, yes, the body will heal itself but you will need medical intervention to help facilitate the rehabilitation.

It has been scientifically proven that Exercise is one of the most effective forms of treatment for depression and anxiety. Multiple meta-analysis ( studies that have looked at multiple studies, meaning strong evidence based) have shown that people who exercise have moderate to large reductions in the likelihood on depression, with a growing body of evidence that exercise can be used alongside medication for effective treatment.

What I feel  as a professional Exercise Physiologist is that ‘how much exercise’ isn’t explored within these studies.  I can understand that the thought of stepping outside and going for a run doesn’t seem inviting for someone who is witnessing a mental health issue. Here, we first need to reiterate the fact that during depression there is a change going on inside our brain.

During depression it is believed that a deficit of serotonin is what leads to depression or rather depression causes the deficit of  serotonin as an outcome, either way it is important to note that exercise can help to increase our serotonin levels. I find this interesting because it indicates that different exercise modes may be more beneficial for depression, so far research shows that if you were to do a bout of activity on a bike (moderate intensity activity) versus stretching (low intensity activity), there was a significant difference in the level of depression, cycling having lower incidences between the two groups whereas the two groups had no/little difference in anxiety.

The bottom line is while going for some exercise may seem like an arbitrary recommendation it has been shown in countless studies to be effective, not only improving ones psychological aspects and self-esteem but only in the more physical aspect by improving the serotonin availability within the brain.


If you are feeling low, anxious, or depressed, please seek advice from your GP.

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