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How Can Exercise-Based Interventions Help Patients With Mental Health Disorders

Exercise-based interventions for mental health disorders are becoming increasingly popular in treating mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Exercise has been proven to be a powerful tool for improving mental health, and there is growing evidence that it can be an effective intervention for various mental health disorders. For people suffering from depression, exercise has been shown to positively affect mood, reduce fatigue and stress, and boost energy levels. 

As such, physiotherapy can improve your life by living a healthy, pain-free life and optimizing your physical health. But, there is also evidence that regular physical activity can decrease symptoms of mild to moderate depression in adults. Exercise can also help people with anxiety disorders by lowering their cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing their endorphins (a feel-good hormone). Studies have also found that regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental health disorders affect millions of people worldwide, many of whom don’t have adequate mental health resources. Exercise-based interventions offer an accessible, low-cost option for managing symptoms and improving well-being. Here are some key benefits of exercise-based interventions for those with mental health disorders.

#1. Mitigate symptoms

One of the main benefits of exercise for people with mental health issues is that it can help reduce symptoms without needing medication. Exercise can offer a way to self-regulate emotions and combat negative thought patterns naturally. Additionally, exercising regularly can help build self-esteem and confidence, which may be beneficial in managing mental health problems.

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. This is because exercise releases endorphins (hormones that induce happiness and euphoria).

#2. Makes room for socializing

Connecting with friends or joining a gym or fitness class provides structure and social support, which can help improve mood and promote feelings of well-being. Outdoor activities like hiking or biking benefit some individuals struggling with mental health issues.

Exercise allows individuals to interact with others in a safe environment — virtually or in person — which can boost morale and motivate them to continue engaging in activities that benefit their well-being. Additionally, working out with others could provide social support that may help reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation associated with mental health disorders.

#3. Customized approach to exercises

When engaging in any exercise program for mental health issues, it is important to ensure that it is adapted to the individual’s needs and preferences. This means considering age, medical history, ability level, etc., so the program is tailored appropriately. 

It is also important to ensure you engage in activities that you truly enjoy; if your exercise program does not excite you or make you look forward to it, you may need help to sustain your motivation over time. 

Note that exercise should not replace other forms of treatment; if your mental health issue is severe, it may be better to seek professional help rather than trying to tackle it on your own through exercise only.

#4. Improved sleep quality

Exercise can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress hormones like cortisol that interfere with good sleep patterns. It also helps promote healthy circadian rhythms by regulating melatonin levels in the body, which is important for maintaining restful sleep cycles.

Physiotherapy can help improve sleep quality in those with mental illness by providing strategies to reduce physical and psychological arousal and relax the body. Physiotherapists can teach individuals self-management skills, including breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, energy conservation, and relaxation techniques such as visualization. 

Regular exercise can also help improve overall sleep quality and reduce stress levels often associated with mental health conditions. Additionally, physiotherapists can provide advice regarding appropriate ergonomics and sleeping postures and help individuals identify any predisposing factors that may be associated with insomnia or disturbed sleep, such as caffeine or alcohol intake.

#5. Enhance cognitive functions

Exercise has been shown to improve cognitive functioning, such as memory, concentration, problem-solving skills, and executive functioning (the ability to organize and plan). This means that individuals with mental health disorders may be better able to manage their symptoms and perform activities related to daily living or work tasks.

Physiotherapists can also provide education on relaxation techniques, mindfulness and self-management strategies to help people cope with mental health issues. Physiotherapy can help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve concentration and focus, reduce fatigue and irritability, manage stress more effectively, and boost self-esteem. Physiotherapy can effectively treat various mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Wrapping up

Physiotherapy can benefit people with mental health disorders in a variety of ways. Physiotherapists can help improve physical function, increase independence and activity levels, reduce stress and facilitate relaxation, and encourage positive lifestyle changes. 
A regular visit to your physiotherapist in Calgary can help provide a sense of well-being by improving physical health and overall quality of life. A safe, non-judgmental environment in our clinic helps people with mental health conditions overcome the challenges accompanying their diagnosis.