teen mental health

Teen Mental Health – Why movement matters!

Feeling down, stressed or anxious are all normal emotions for young people to experience. When these feelings persist for long periods of time or begin to interfere with work, study and social life, they may be considered part of a mental illness. If this sounds familiar, read on.

Is it just me?

If you’re struggling with mental illness, you’re not alone! Recent evidence shows that one in four people aged 15-19 years are currently living with a mental illness. Anxiety and depression have the highest prevalence among teens (AIHW, 2011).

Where can I get help?

If you think something isn’t right, it’s important to get help. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help get your mental health back on track! Start by talking to friends and family, a GP, or by accessing a support organisation like Headspace.

Another way to positively influence mental health is by moving more. The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity recommend adolescents accumulate 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day as well as limiting screen time and breaking up long periods of sitting. Sadly, over 90% of teens aged 13-17 don’t get the recommended amount of exercise.

But I don’t feel like exercising?

Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated to move. Peer pressure, low self-esteem, and lack of motivation are all barriers for young people moving more. Physical activity is important for everyone’s health and well-being but sometimes it’s the last thing we feel like doing when we’re feeling down.

So how can you overcome these barriers and move more to improve our mental health? Here are some suggestions:

Find something you enjoy doing – whether its kicking the footy in the park, walking with a friend or going for a swim at the beach, doing something you enjoy means you’re more likely to make it part of your routine

Start small – meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines can be achieved by doing little bits of activity throughout the day. Going for a walk in your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the lift at work, or doing a free exercise class in your local area are all good ways to start movin

Write it in your diary – sometimes it’s really hard to find the energy to get up and move but we know that exercise can help boost mood, manage stress and improve sleep. Make a note remind yourself to get up and be move, even if it’s only for 10 minutes in your day. Something is always better than nothing!

Ask for help – if you want to start moving but you’re not sure where to start there are plenty of great resources available. Some great places to start include your GP, Headspace or an exercise professional like an Accredited Exercise Physiologists . To find an exercise professional near you, click here.