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How Exercise can improve mental health: Exercise for Your Wellbeing

October 13, 2021 2 min read

How Exercise can improve mental health: Exercise for Your Wellbeing

We live in an era where the demands placed upon us by work, social, or personal commitments often lead to very busy and stressful lives, which often coincides with poor lifestyle decisions or choices. Metabolic syndrome is exponentially increasing, and lifestyle interventions like regular physical activity are a small-time commitment and low-cost alternative to developing these health complications. However, we often forget about the role of physical activity and exercise in the management of mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. Callaghan et al. (2006) even suggest this sad fact with research into the neglect of physical activity in the treatment of mental health amongst patients.

In October, this mental health month, VPA wants to spread the message of how important physical activity is, not just for a strong body but also for a strong mind. We have all felt the impacts of extended lockdowns in one way or another, and with the doors to gyms swinging open this month, there is no better time to start the discussion about moving more and its benefits for our mental wellbeing.

Here are our top 5 Tips & benefits of regular physical activity for mental health:

  • Aerobic exercise like swimming, cycling, running or jogging has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression significantly. Improved circulation and blood flow to the brain and involvement of the HPA Axis impact our stress reaction. The HPA axis communicates directly with different brain components, controlling mood and motivation amongst other physiological processes.

  • Regular exercise like resistance or strength-based activities is an important booster for self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise serves as an important treatment for patients with Schizophrenia in alleviating symptoms of obesity associated with increased adiposity around the waste associated with the use of antipsychotic medications. In a study conducted across 12 weeks, patients living with Schizophrenia saw improvements in overall fitness and health, including blood pressure, energy levels and grip strength!

  • The research shows that we should be shooting for even as little as 3 x 30-minute brisk walks each week to see improvements in our ability to manage our mental wellness. Good news for those who struggle to find the time to exercise, you can break these 30 minutes into multiple blocks of 10 minutes if you’re are short on time – all in similar all-seeing benefits regardless!

  • Mental health service providers can provide evidence-backed and effective treatment for the management of mental illness, including psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and exercise physiology!

  • Each year, individuals diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or other mental health illnesses have access to 5 subsidised consults through medicating with allied health professionals. Aside from this, remember to reach out to friends or family if you are struggling. The following helplines are also always there to provide assistance:

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