HomeResourcesMovement
Physical and Mental Wellbeing - What You Need To Know

Physical and Mental Wellbeing - What You Need To Know

Written by
Atle Edgar
Jan 5, 2022

Most of us realise that regular exercise is imperative in allowing us to maintain our health as we age, however not everyone is aware that there are other reasons we should be staying active. Exercise has a significant impact on our brain’s chemistry, stimulating it in a way that improves our mood, memory, and ability to deal with stress - to name but a few benefits!

In this article we will break down the relationship between  exercise and your mental health; how much exercise you should be doing; some tips to help improve your exercise; and direct you to some additional resources in the Oqea Resource Library to further guide you!

Physical Activity and Mental Well Being

Mental Health Professionals will often prescribe physical activity as part of their treatment, and once you see the broad range of general benefits you will understand why! These include the following:

Mood - The chemicals released during and after exercise, like serotonin and endorphins, are well known for improving our mood and providing us with a natural and healthy buzz.  These chemicals and their positive impacts can make us feel more comfortable and connected with the world around us, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Thinking, Memory, and Concentration - When your blood is pumped around your body and brain at a faster rate during exercise, people usually say it allows them to think more clearly. Consistent aerobic exercise (like walking, swimming and riding your bike) has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, used in both learning and verbal memory. 

Sleep -Aerobic exercise is proven to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance which drastically improves your sleep cycle, and in turn, better sleep allows for improved thinking capability and mental energy.Regular aerobic exercise also assists the functionality of the heart, increasing its strength and thus allows it to beat less per minute which is great news especially during sleep where you're recovering from days stressors that may increase heart rate which ultimately isn't healthy.  

Brain Conservation - Brain shrinkage is a natural part of ageing, however exercise has been shown to better retain grey and white matter. So if you want to stay sharp and maintain functional reasoning as you age, regular  exercise is vital!

Stress & Anxiety - Exercise is known to decrease our body’s reaction to anxiety, and there is even some evidence to suggest that regular exercise will reduce some stress related conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).    Exercise can be good for IBS symptom relief and comes along with some great health promoting benefits. Stress is a key trigger for many IBS symptoms. Stress can worsen digestive symptoms and leave your whole body and mind feeling sluggish.

Depression - There is substantial evidence to suggest exercise, at a light, moderate or vigorous level, can be very effective to complement other treatments for depression, and sometimes even replace those treatments. Regular work-outs may also reduce inflammation, which can have incredibly positive effects for people suffering this condition.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - With both moderate and vigorous exercise, there has been some evidence to suggest it will improve executive functions and motor skills for children experiencing ADHD. Furthermore, exercising for a longer period may also lead to improved results, and cardiovascular exercise (more rigorous exercise) is particularly beneficial. 

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – For those struggling with PTSD treatment, or with subthreshold PTSD, exercise may be a helpful coping strategy. Especially as PTSD has many symptoms like depression, lack of sleep and anxiety, all of which are positively affected by exercise, it can also help to reduce cardio-vascular problems! Recent research shows that yoga, for example, may help individuals with PTSD focus on the present, reduce rumination, and combat negative thinking patterns.

Panic Disorder - Exercise could be a proactive way to release built-up tension if you are someone with a panic disorder. Reducing emotions of fear, and worry, in addition to alleviating both the intensity and frequency of panic attacks in some cases, exercise could be the key to getting a grip on this disorder! Using exercise can flip the anxiety being experienced from a negative emotion to one of positivity, achieving set exercise goals, especially when these options are being shared amongst others, as in a team sport or activity  

How Much exercise should I be doing?

If you are currently seeing a mental healthcare professional for a specific reason or condition, it may be worth inquiring what forms of, and how much exercising you should be doing. It may integrate well , enhance your existing treatment and match expectations and what may be achieved within your current level of fitness. 

Currently, the Australian government recommends 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical exercise most or all days of the week. Realistically ‘finding 30’ maybe somewhat problematic from a number of perspectives, so if  30-minute periods seem too long, breaking it into smaller 10–15-minute chunks may be easier from both a time and fitness level! You could choose to do 10 minutes after you wake up and 10 minutes before you go to bed!

It has also been suggested practicing mindfulness (Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens) while exercising can improve your mental health, and further reduce symptoms of anxiety & stress. A study of 62 women over six months found that those who applied mindfulness meditation practices to their daily or weekly routine had a much higher level of physical exercise and general movement, and a greater reduction in BMI, than those who did not employ mindfulness practices.

A few tips and tricks to help get you moving

Make Time - Do not just try fit it in last minute, plan! Even just setting out 10 minutes a day in advance is a great place to start. As soon as you wake up kick starting your metabolism, or just before you go to bed, especially if the exercise of choice is more passive, like stretching, yoga or walking around the block! 

Be practical - You aren’t going to be running a marathon in your first week, and you cannot be an iron person every day! Make sure you have reasonable expectations for yourself, but do not push yourself too hard either!  

Find the right fit/Do what you enjoy - Exercise is like a glove, and everyone has different shaped hands. Find an exercise you actually enjoy, not something everyone around you thinks is cool. You’ll find it so much easier to participate and exert some stored energy when it's something you actually like!

Personally, I used to go to the gym but really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere, community or the exercise itself, but recently I got into bouldering which has changed my life! Not just because I enjoy the physical activity itself but also the people around me who also enjoy it! You’ll be surprised how like-minded people can be when they work out the same way.

Integrate into daily life - Most of us are not able to cut out 1 hour a day to drive to the gym after work and then home before dinner. You might find the best time is in a 10-minute window during work on a standing bike! Finding these small moments can do a lot for our mental health. 

Start Slow - Like being practical, don't be hard on yourself if you are not consistent or able to achieve highly at the start! Take it slowly, be kind and encouraging to yourself and it will get easier.

Set Goals - Setting goals is vital for progress measurement. Tracking your speed, distance or time may help to motivate you, showing you how far you have come or can achieve. Just remember to be patient!

At Home & Work - I have mentioned these two already but they are so helpful! Being open to home or work exercise can really improve the time you are able to spend and offer cheap exercise options. 

It might be doing more physical chores, taking the stairs at work, or just putting on an exercise DVD and of course moving to it!. Get experimental with it if you want...find the child in you! 

Exercise with friends! - One of the easiest ways to encourage yourself to exercise is by finding activities you can do with your friends and of course committing to them. I for one, like bouldering as it is a fantastic social exercise that allows me to work-out while also getting important social fulfilment. Even better is that we push each other and encourage each other to work harder and help each other learn different technics!

Oqea Physical Health Resources

Still looking for some knowledge to help empower your exercise journey? Don’t worry Oqea has you covered! Below is a list of some self-help resources from the Oqea Resource Library to support you! 

Oqea is consistently adding to our Resource Library, by both finding and creating the content that is require. So, if you are trying to find something related to a specific problem or area then please let us know! It is only by communicating with our amazing community that we can provide the best mental wellbeing services and resources possible.

Just email info@oqea.com or go to the App feedback tab in the more section of the app or browser to masuggest the content you want to see. We cannot wait to hear from you!

 Links:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health

https://headspace.org.au/explore-topics/for-young-people/stay-active/

https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/community-based-social-support-for-physical-activity

https://www.medibank.com.au/livebetter/health-brief/health-insights/join-the-community-can-group-exercise-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/

https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/community-based-social-support-for-physical-activity

https://www.medibank.com.au/livebetter/health-brief/health-insights/join-the-community-can-group-exercise-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/

https://exerciseright.com.au/top-reasons-community-based-exercise-best-older-adults/#:~:text=Community%2Dbased%20exercise%20programs%20provide,mental%20wellbeing%20and%20self%2Dconfidence.

https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/department/publications/publication/the-relationship-between-organised-recreational-activity-and-mental-health

Physical and Mental Wellbeing - What You Need To Know

January 5, 2022

Most of us realise that regular exercise is imperative in allowing us to maintain our health as we age, however not everyone is aware that there are other reasons we should be staying active. Exercise has a significant impact on our brain’s chemistry, stimulating it in a way that improves our mood, memory, and ability to deal with stress - to name but a few benefits!

In this article we will break down the relationship between  exercise and your mental health; how much exercise you should be doing; some tips to help improve your exercise; and direct you to some additional resources in the Oqea Resource Library to further guide you!

Physical Activity and Mental Well Being

Mental Health Professionals will often prescribe physical activity as part of their treatment, and once you see the broad range of general benefits you will understand why! These include the following:

Mood - The chemicals released during and after exercise, like serotonin and endorphins, are well known for improving our mood and providing us with a natural and healthy buzz.  These chemicals and their positive impacts can make us feel more comfortable and connected with the world around us, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Thinking, Memory, and Concentration - When your blood is pumped around your body and brain at a faster rate during exercise, people usually say it allows them to think more clearly. Consistent aerobic exercise (like walking, swimming and riding your bike) has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, used in both learning and verbal memory. 

Sleep -Aerobic exercise is proven to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance which drastically improves your sleep cycle, and in turn, better sleep allows for improved thinking capability and mental energy.Regular aerobic exercise also assists the functionality of the heart, increasing its strength and thus allows it to beat less per minute which is great news especially during sleep where you're recovering from days stressors that may increase heart rate which ultimately isn't healthy.  

Brain Conservation - Brain shrinkage is a natural part of ageing, however exercise has been shown to better retain grey and white matter. So if you want to stay sharp and maintain functional reasoning as you age, regular  exercise is vital!

Stress & Anxiety - Exercise is known to decrease our body’s reaction to anxiety, and there is even some evidence to suggest that regular exercise will reduce some stress related conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).    Exercise can be good for IBS symptom relief and comes along with some great health promoting benefits. Stress is a key trigger for many IBS symptoms. Stress can worsen digestive symptoms and leave your whole body and mind feeling sluggish.

Depression - There is substantial evidence to suggest exercise, at a light, moderate or vigorous level, can be very effective to complement other treatments for depression, and sometimes even replace those treatments. Regular work-outs may also reduce inflammation, which can have incredibly positive effects for people suffering this condition.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - With both moderate and vigorous exercise, there has been some evidence to suggest it will improve executive functions and motor skills for children experiencing ADHD. Furthermore, exercising for a longer period may also lead to improved results, and cardiovascular exercise (more rigorous exercise) is particularly beneficial. 

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – For those struggling with PTSD treatment, or with subthreshold PTSD, exercise may be a helpful coping strategy. Especially as PTSD has many symptoms like depression, lack of sleep and anxiety, all of which are positively affected by exercise, it can also help to reduce cardio-vascular problems! Recent research shows that yoga, for example, may help individuals with PTSD focus on the present, reduce rumination, and combat negative thinking patterns.

Panic Disorder - Exercise could be a proactive way to release built-up tension if you are someone with a panic disorder. Reducing emotions of fear, and worry, in addition to alleviating both the intensity and frequency of panic attacks in some cases, exercise could be the key to getting a grip on this disorder! Using exercise can flip the anxiety being experienced from a negative emotion to one of positivity, achieving set exercise goals, especially when these options are being shared amongst others, as in a team sport or activity  

How Much exercise should I be doing?

If you are currently seeing a mental healthcare professional for a specific reason or condition, it may be worth inquiring what forms of, and how much exercising you should be doing. It may integrate well , enhance your existing treatment and match expectations and what may be achieved within your current level of fitness. 

Currently, the Australian government recommends 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical exercise most or all days of the week. Realistically ‘finding 30’ maybe somewhat problematic from a number of perspectives, so if  30-minute periods seem too long, breaking it into smaller 10–15-minute chunks may be easier from both a time and fitness level! You could choose to do 10 minutes after you wake up and 10 minutes before you go to bed!

It has also been suggested practicing mindfulness (Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens) while exercising can improve your mental health, and further reduce symptoms of anxiety & stress. A study of 62 women over six months found that those who applied mindfulness meditation practices to their daily or weekly routine had a much higher level of physical exercise and general movement, and a greater reduction in BMI, than those who did not employ mindfulness practices.

A few tips and tricks to help get you moving

Make Time - Do not just try fit it in last minute, plan! Even just setting out 10 minutes a day in advance is a great place to start. As soon as you wake up kick starting your metabolism, or just before you go to bed, especially if the exercise of choice is more passive, like stretching, yoga or walking around the block! 

Be practical - You aren’t going to be running a marathon in your first week, and you cannot be an iron person every day! Make sure you have reasonable expectations for yourself, but do not push yourself too hard either!  

Find the right fit/Do what you enjoy - Exercise is like a glove, and everyone has different shaped hands. Find an exercise you actually enjoy, not something everyone around you thinks is cool. You’ll find it so much easier to participate and exert some stored energy when it's something you actually like!

Personally, I used to go to the gym but really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere, community or the exercise itself, but recently I got into bouldering which has changed my life! Not just because I enjoy the physical activity itself but also the people around me who also enjoy it! You’ll be surprised how like-minded people can be when they work out the same way.

Integrate into daily life - Most of us are not able to cut out 1 hour a day to drive to the gym after work and then home before dinner. You might find the best time is in a 10-minute window during work on a standing bike! Finding these small moments can do a lot for our mental health. 

Start Slow - Like being practical, don't be hard on yourself if you are not consistent or able to achieve highly at the start! Take it slowly, be kind and encouraging to yourself and it will get easier.

Set Goals - Setting goals is vital for progress measurement. Tracking your speed, distance or time may help to motivate you, showing you how far you have come or can achieve. Just remember to be patient!

At Home & Work - I have mentioned these two already but they are so helpful! Being open to home or work exercise can really improve the time you are able to spend and offer cheap exercise options. 

It might be doing more physical chores, taking the stairs at work, or just putting on an exercise DVD and of course moving to it!. Get experimental with it if you want...find the child in you! 

Exercise with friends! - One of the easiest ways to encourage yourself to exercise is by finding activities you can do with your friends and of course committing to them. I for one, like bouldering as it is a fantastic social exercise that allows me to work-out while also getting important social fulfilment. Even better is that we push each other and encourage each other to work harder and help each other learn different technics!

Oqea Physical Health Resources

Still looking for some knowledge to help empower your exercise journey? Don’t worry Oqea has you covered! Below is a list of some self-help resources from the Oqea Resource Library to support you! 

Oqea is consistently adding to our Resource Library, by both finding and creating the content that is require. So, if you are trying to find something related to a specific problem or area then please let us know! It is only by communicating with our amazing community that we can provide the best mental wellbeing services and resources possible.

Just email info@oqea.com or go to the App feedback tab in the more section of the app or browser to masuggest the content you want to see. We cannot wait to hear from you!

 Links:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health

https://headspace.org.au/explore-topics/for-young-people/stay-active/

https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/community-based-social-support-for-physical-activity

https://www.medibank.com.au/livebetter/health-brief/health-insights/join-the-community-can-group-exercise-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/

https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/community-based-social-support-for-physical-activity

https://www.medibank.com.au/livebetter/health-brief/health-insights/join-the-community-can-group-exercise-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/

https://exerciseright.com.au/top-reasons-community-based-exercise-best-older-adults/#:~:text=Community%2Dbased%20exercise%20programs%20provide,mental%20wellbeing%20and%20self%2Dconfidence.

https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/department/publications/publication/the-relationship-between-organised-recreational-activity-and-mental-health