How to muscle up on mental illness for Mental Health Month

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.


Mental illness is also ranked as the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia. Mental health needs to be in the spotlight. As October is Mental Health Month we will shed light on the benefits of exercise on mental health and how exercise can help Australians improve their mood, self-concept, work behavior, and more.

In the early 2000’s a study in Finland found that people who exercised 2-3 times per week displayed lower levels of depression, anger, and stress compared to people who didn’t exercise as frequently or at all. Your mood isn’t the only thing that improves, as just this year a study was published in Ireland where participants with generalized anxiety disorder showed improvements in sleeping habits after partaking in regular exercise.

There is mounting evidence that suggests exercise is an effective treatment method for people suffering from acute and chronic mental illness, with some studies suggesting that exercise is just as effective, if not more effective than pharmacological intervention in alleviating depressive symptoms. So, in light of these great findings, here are some practical activities you can do to lift your spirits and help cope with life’s pressures.

Whether you are struggling with anxiety due to exams, work, family pressures, or are simply feeling a bit blue, exercise will help get you back to your usual self.

My previous post, ‘Exercise, Stress, and Overcoming The Barriers’ explored practical ways in which you can fill the potholes which are preventing you from exercising, and can be found right here in the blog section of the Exercise Right website.

And for more information in the mean time, check out Exercise Right’s ‘How To Train Your Mental Health Monsters‘ campaign.

Exercise Right’s top three tips for muscling up on mental illness:


  1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week at an intensity that is around 6/10, where 1 is resting and 10 is you would not be able to continue for more than a few seconds.
  2. Do whatever exercise you enjoy most – If you are exercising solely for your mental health, both weight training and cardio improve mental health outcomes with little difference between the two.
  3. If you like sports join a local sports team – mental health is shown to improve with social interaction, and joining your local Oztag or Netball team will allow you to enjoy exercise whilst being in a community environment.


If you are struggling for motivation, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help break down the barriers which are preventing you from exercise.


Exercise Right Blog


Angelo Sabag is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist with a passion for people.