Exercise and Mental Health
After seeing Alexandra Mae Jones article ( https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/physical-activity-should-be-considered-as-front-line-treatment-for-depression-scientific-review-1.6309158 ) on CTV News on Sunday, I was curious to read a little bit more into the study that was conducted at the University of South Australia ( https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/03/02/bjsports-2022-106195) . Dr. Ben Signh and his team set out to see what side effects physical activity will have on mental health.
Here are the key points from the study:
*The studies done were on people mostly suffering with mild-to-moderate symptoms.
The purpose of this study was to find the effects of physical activity on symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adult populations. Meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials were designed to increase physical activity in an adult population that have been assessed with depression, anxiety or psychological distress. There were over 1,000 trails conducted which included over 128,000 people taking part. Those people were “healthy” adults, people with mental health disorders and people with various chronic diseases.
They found that physical activity had positive effects on every part of the population that took part in the trials, with greater results on those who have HIV, kidney disease, on pregnant and postpartum woman and “healthy” individuals.
Signh and his team concluded that physical activity is highly beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress across a wide range of adult populations. Once again this included the general population, people with diagnosed mental health disorders and people with chronic disease.
Signh states, “Physical activity should be a mainstay approach in the management of depression, anxiety and psychological distress.”
So there you have it. I’m sure most people are not surprised with the results. We all know that physical activity is good for our bodies and our minds. The outcome of this study is self-explanatory- a wide range of our population will have positive mental health side effects from exercise.
Over the years, I have worked (trained) with many people who have or suffered from depression. I know firsthand how much of a positive impact exercise can have on their lives. The majority of them were dedicated, worked hard and showed up for their scheduled workouts. What was unfortunate was that it was very hard for a lot of depressed people to find the motivation to exercise on their own.
As Dr. Signh says, “Physical activity is known to improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment.” This is not a new idea, but what if doctors were able to prescribe exercise with a trainer or a group class and have the costs covered? Not only would doctors/government be helping their patients with their mental health, but they would also be preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia, and many types of cancer.
Unfortunately, many people who would benefit the most from exercise cannot afford to pay for personal trainers or group classes. This means that they may not have access to the resources they need to improve their physical and mental health. If the costs of exercise were covered, it could make a significant difference in the lives of these individuals.
Overall, the idea of prescribing exercise with a trainer or group class, and having the costs covered could be a powerful tool in improving the physical and mental health of individuals, especially those who need it the most. By providing access to exercise resources, doctors and governments could help prevent chronic health conditions while also improving mental health outcomes, and pave the way for a healthy, happier society.
We certainly do! You can either purchase programs or book personal training sessions and be given your workout at the end of the session.