• Tena Davies

Exercise and Mental Health

Depression and anxiety can be debilitating conditions. Depression is very common. Fortunately, there are good treatments for depression including therapy from a Psychologist as well as anti-depressant medication. However,   the role of exercise can play an important part in a person's recovery.

Though we don’t know exactly how any antidepressant works, we think exercise combats depression by enhancing endorphins: natural chemicals that act like morphine and other painkillers. There’s also a theory that aerobic activity boosts norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood. And like antidepressants, exercise helps the brain grow new neurons.

My experience as a clinician is that patients experiencing mental illness tend to withdraw from healthy habits including reducing their exercise. This often leads to a follow on effect of reducing other health behaviours such as healthy eating and increasing behaviours such as drinking.

So the question becomes, if you aren't feeling motivated to exercise how do you do it for your mental health's sake? I think the best way is to break things down into very small achievable steps such as walking home from work once a week or focussing on getting your gym clothes on, then getting to the gym, then following through on exercise.

Article written by Tena Davies, Psychologist. The aim of this article is to give you ideas on well being. Please note this article is not intended to replace therapy.

Tena Davies is a Psychologist based in inner city Melbourne. Tena has expertise in psychological counselling with adolescents and adults. She also works as a cyber expert providing cyber safety education to schools and professionals. As a Psychologist, Tena believes in helping clients to gain insight into their difficulties and teaching them new skills to grow and thrive. Please see for more information.