The Impact of Movement on Mental Health: Can You Really Exercise Your Way to Happiness?

It is well known that exercise improves mental health and is used in the treatment and management of mental health disorders, however, many are unaware of the mechanisms behind it; how exactly does exercise lead to an improved mental state and a reduction in mental distress symptoms?


Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health diagnoses today. Below are some mechanisms by which exercise can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression: 

Increased Energy

One of the most common symptoms of mental illness is low energy; perhaps the earliest adaptation to regular exercise is increased energy levels, which makes physical activity a powerful antidote to combat feeling “sluggish” and lethargic. Below are some mechanisms that contribute to this process:

Self-Efficacy and Confidence

Low self-confidence, self-efficacy, and motivation are often associated with mental health issues. Exercise offers an excellent way to help improve these factors via: 

Decreased Inflammation & Pain

It is common for individuals who experience mental health struggles to also deal with pain and increased levels of inflammation. Exercise offers a strong defense against inflammation and pain via: 

This article offers an overview of some of the mechanisms through which exercise improves mental health. However, the benefits of exercise really are endless! If you or someone you know experiences mental health struggles and does not partake in regular physical activity or exercise, please consider working with a qualified exercise professional, as this can be of great help in reducing mental health symptoms. 

Make yourself and your health a priority this year and get in touch with me to start exercising your way to happiness and lower stress!


Krystyna Woodson, 
Clinical Exercise Physiologist

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