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7 Powerful Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: Combat Depression and More

A child with special needs engages in indoor exercise National Disability Insurance Scheme
You are not imagining it. Getting out for a run or a trip to the gym could make you feel better than you have in a while. There is a science behind how exercise can help your brain and wipe out conditions such as depression and other mood disorders. In this article, we’ll talk about how exercise can help you and improve your mental health.

Understanding Depression

Let’s start with depression, an illness never to be confused with mere sadness or being down in the dumps for a day or two; rather, the reality is whole-bodied and spans all aspects of life. Mood, motivation to behave, energy or drive to do things, sleep, appetite, and capacity to enjoy or feel pleasure in once enjoyable things are all critical issues.

Exercise and Serotonin

promotes mental health through goal-focused exercise, aligning with NDIS service values
Now, the exercise part; when you exercise, whether you are taking a brisk walk or doing some yoga, the body releases neurotransmitters – a type of chemical that enters the synapse or the connection between two nerve cells that send messages to each other. There’s a neurotransmitter called serotonin, often called the happy hormone.

Endorphins and Mood

Another category of chemicals is endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain relief and are suitable for your mood. It’s endorphins that give you a runner’s high.

Stress Reduction

Another benefit of exercise is that it relieves stress. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, a good, sweaty exercise session can help lower your stress response and reset your brain.

Improved Sleep

Trouble sleeping? The exercise mythos asserts that it’s just what the doctor ordered: not only will it render you too weary to stay up, but it’ll revitalise your body clock so bedtime also becomes an inescapable reality.

Boosting Self-Esteem

A boy with a disability exercising in a park, supported by services
If you are mentally healthy, the likelihood is that you are also psychologically healthy and have bestowed your self-esteem upon yourself via your activities, particularly exercise, which also acts as a psycho-endocrine tonic that boosts self-confidence by making us feel good about ourselves, whether we’re hitting new personal bests or simply feeling fitter and more robust.

Social Interaction

Do not exercise alone; instead, let it be a social activity. If possible, join a sports club or a group fitness activity, or even walk simultaneously with another person. This way, you can combine the benefits of physical activity with decreased loneliness and improved mood.

Mindfulness and Exercise

Have you ever tried mindful movement? They’ll teach you to focus on the present moment and become aware of how you feel physically and breathing as you move. Exercise such as yoga and tai chi are excellent candidates since they provide a double whammy of mental health benefits.

Types of Exercise

Woman with disability engaged in exercise
There’s no cookie-cutter prescription for mental health through exercise, it seems. Some people prefer to stick with traditional cardiovascular workouts, others like lifting weights – while others still might like to do something a little more leisurely, such as swimming or dancing. Whatever appeals to you, the motivation should come from how good it feels.

Creating a Routine

It is also essential for minimising mental-health burdens that we exercise regularly, whether it is putting regular gym sessions into our calendar or making it a daily goal to take the stairs rather than the lift.

Overcoming Barriers

Naturally, lots of things can prevent us from getting moving when we should, from poor time management to lack of willpower. The key is to develop strategies to thwart those barriers – enlisting a friend, setting reasonable targets or focusing on what activities you like to do.

Seeking Professional Help

Yes, even though exercise can and often does promote mental health, it’s not a cure. And perhaps a person can come to the end of their physical abilities, seeking a more restful state of mind. In that case, it’s better to find professional help through a trained therapist or counsellor who can help them on this journey.


And there you have it – fantastic mental health benefits of exercise, which research has shown can help lift your mood and boost your self-esteem, as well as alleviate stress, depressive symptoms and sleep issues. Still not convinced? Run through that list again, and then get yourself out there and put those trainers to good use.


1.How much exercise do I need to see mental health benefits?

Yes, any activity is better than none, but aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for optimal mental health benefits.

2.Can exercise help with other mental health conditions besides depression?

Definitely! Exercise helps alleviate a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, ADHD and PTSD.

3.What if I don't enjoy traditional forms of exercise?

Oh, no problem! The main thing is doing things you love to get the body in motion. That can be a dance class, gardening, or throwing a ball with your dog.

4. Is exercising alone or with others better for mental health?

Both have benefits! Some people need solitude when working out, while others can benefit from the social opportunities of exercising with friends or in a class.

5. If I have a physical disability or chronic illness, is there any value in exercise?

Yes, you can! A physical therapist or trainer can adapt some of these exercises to fit the abilities and needs of your own body perfectly. And if you’ve got a different type of range in mind, we are happy to talk with you! Just contact Ryan and Linda White or Colin Bucks at the water institute, where they can connect you to a team of individuals from the larger field of transdisciplinary rehabilitation. But, first and foremost, please check with a physician or other qualified health professional before beginning any new exercise programme


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