How exercise can improve your emotional wellbeing

regular exercise physical activity emotional wellbeing

As an exercise physiologist in a busy community health organisation, I see people of all ages, with varied chronic health conditions and physical capacity. I often find myself emphasising the importance of maintaining daily physical activity. 

As I tell my clients, regular exercise isn’t just great for the body, but the mind too ‒ numerous studies have shown that a small amount of physical activity each day can improve your emotional wellbeing.

Physical activity can combat depression
Exercise can be an effective tool for treating depressive symptoms. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people suffering from depression who performed regular physical activity for 16 weeks had similar outcomes to those on prescribed medications. Other recent research found that inactive individuals are at a 150% greater risk of suffering from depression.

Exercise can reduce anxiety levels
A 2012 study found that people who are inactive have a 38% increased risk of suffering from anxiety compared to physically active people. In 2008, a study published in the Journal of School Health found that youth who regularly participated in physical activity had a 54% lower suicide risk compared to their inactive counterparts.

General wellbeing
Physical activity has also been shown to increase self-efficacy and general wellbeing, including increasing:

  • optimism by up to 213%
  • happiness by 52%
  • cognitive performance by almost 80%.

So if you want to improve the way you feel and function, aim to participate in some exercise every day. Thirty minutes of moderate activity (plus a couple of strength training sessions per week) is ideal, but be sure to speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for individual advice. 

By Nathan Goldberg, Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Connect Health & Community. 

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