How Regular Physical Activity Can Help Improve Mental Health

Exercise is an evidence-based treatment for mental health conditions. Exercise can not only improve your mood, wellbeing and physical health, but it can support your mental health too. 

The Black Dog Institute is a big believer in exercising to improve your mood. Their fundraising campaign ‘Exercise Your Mood’ is designed to get Australians active and regularly exercising with the goal to improve mental health.  


Here are some great ways that exercise can improve your mental health:

Feel-good chemicals

When you build healthy habits around exercise, such as the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, your brain responds positively. It starts to pump out those neurotransmitters that make you feel great, such as serotonin and dopamine. This is why you’ll hear some people describe a sense of motivation and joy after exercising. 


Stress reduction

As well as making you feel better, exercise is a fantastic method of stress reduction. When our body becomes stressed or overburdened, we shift into a fight or flight response, and our bodily systems transform into a state of heightened awareness. This state is supposed to be temporary, but can become prolonged with chronic stress, damaging our body. 

Exercise helps to improve our ability to cope with external stressors and reduce the negative effects of stress on our body. In fact, it can help to protect your immune system, digestive system and cardiovascular system from stress. Exercise is considered a form of eustress (or beneficial stress) that promotes positive changes both physically and mentally. 


Better sleep

Exercising helps to regulate our body’s internal clock – we have solid evidence that it improves sleep, although we don’t yet know the exact mechanism it uses. When you exercise, you have an improved amount of deep, rejuvenating sleep. In fact, research demonstrates that the effects of aerobic exercise can be compared to those of sleeping pills! Headspace calls good sleep a “superpower” for mental health, giving you more energy, better concentration, and improved stress tolerance.


So, how can an Exercise Physiologist help?

An Exercise Physiologist is a registered health professional who is trained in exercise science. They know how to work with people who are struggling to build healthy exercise habits and can provide support without judgement. 

A chronic illness may put you at an increased risk of mental illness, making it more difficult for you to exercise, ending with you stuck in a catch-22 of feeling sick, struggling to exercise, and suffering from a mental condition such as anxiety or depression, making it harder to stay motivated. An Exercise Physiologist is trained in helping you to break this cycle with manageable exercise routines and pain management techniques that support you to exercise within your abilities.

Additionally, exercise can deliver a healthy dose of distraction, providing a positive ‘mental time-out’ from rumination and feelings of depression and anxiety. 

An exercise program designed by an Exercise Physiologist will:

– be designed to suit your individual strengths and goals

– will help you to stay accountable and feel motivated in a positive environment

– will support you to manage any coexisting conditions

– will be structured using evidence-based strategies

If you’d like to find out more about the services we provide to improve mental health and wellbeing through exercise, contact us on 1300 899 757 or book now



All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Restart can consult with you to confirm what is right for you.