Following on from Sarah’s video last week discussing Chronic Pain, I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about the link between Physical and Mental Health. The importance of mental wellbeing for overall physical health is very clear. In our increasingly busy and current uncertain modern world, it is particularly important for us to give our mental health the care and attention it deserves. As physios, we see first hand the impact stress, depression and anxiety; can have on the physical body. The relationship between mental and physical health is clearly evident particularly in the area of chronic conditions. The associations between mental and physical health include:
- Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions.
- People with serious mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions.
- People with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health.
The social factors of health impact both chronic physical conditions and mental health. Key aspects in addressing these involve:
- Increasing physical activity,
- Access to good nutrition,
- Financial stability and
- Social inclusion and social support.
All of these aspects create opportunities to enhance protective factors and reduce risk factors related to aspects of mental and physical health.
There is a lot of great research to support the importance of physical activity for aiding in the prevention and management of mental health conditions. While physical activity alone certainly does not take the place of professional help (eg seeing a psychologist), one study suggested that an hour of physical activity across the week can help prevent depression.
The general recommendation is for 30 minutes of exercise a day to positively influence mental wellbeing. Some examples of how physical exercise can assist mental wellbeing include:
- Release of endorphins and serotonin (feel good hormones)
- Improved sleep quality (poor sleep is a significant factor in poor mental health)
- Improved mood and energy
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Improved memory and concentration
- Improved coping mechanism and resilience
So if you are just starting to get back into an exercise regime, remember there is something for everyone despite your age and functional ability. We recommend starting with something familiar and ideally an activity you enjoy. If injury is getting in the way of returning to exercise, speak to one of our physios to see how we might be able to help you. If you are experiencing difficulties with your mental wellbeing, speak to your GP or psychologist.