Mind over matter

Physical activity is not just good for your body, it helps your mind too.

Physical activity is associated with increased energy and positive mood. It may reduce depression and even protect against the development of depression. Not surprisingly then, the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand advises people to "Be Active" as one of its Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Principal Lecturer Gary Barclay has been investigating the use of physical activity in the treatment of mental illness in New Zealand. He surveyed members of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists and found that 60% of respondents do prescribe exercise to clients with mental illness most of the time or always. Another third of respondents do so occasionally, depending on the client and their illness.

Preliminary results indicate that the use of physical activity to help those with mental illness might be enhanced with more training in exercise prescription for psychologists, to build their knowledge and confidence in this aspect of their work. While psychologists are already aware that physical activity can have long lasting beneficial effects for mental health, it would also be useful to continue to promote this message to the public.

June 2021

Image credit: Flying Kiwi Tours, sourced from Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0