Written by Kitty Chao.
It is the sad reality that each year, 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. That number is almost double the global average, despite this there is still a poor understanding and acceptance of mental illness and it often goes undiagnosed and either untreated or poorly treated.
Mental illness can have an effect on a person’s cognitive, behavioural and social functioning. Mental illness includes anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and personality disorders.
Exercise itself can make a huge difference in mood, it can also counteract side effects of some medications. If you suffer from mental illnesses it may be a great idea to start an exercise program, this does not mean that you need to join the gym. You can even start this by going for a 10-15 minute walk in the park.
Some tips for anyone trying to start an exercise program:
- Set some short-term goals for exercising each week (e.g. 3 x 20-minute walks per week); plan to schedule this at a regular interval each day, or every other day so it fits your schedule.
- Remember that it can take time for the benefits of exercise to occur. Most studies have shown a significant reduction in depression after eight weeks or more
- It may be helpful to work with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who understands the complexity of the challenges faced with mental health conditions and has the skills and knowledge to help individuals manage their condition and any barriers they may come up against.