In a study conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in February 2023; exercise has been found to be more effective than medication or counselling in managing mental health. The study’s findings challenge the current traditional approach to treatment of mental health issues and highlight the 

significant benefits of physical activity on our psychological wellbeing.

The researchers set out to compare the effectiveness of exercise, medication, and counselling for treating mental health conditions. The study involved a large sample size and a diverse range of participants. Over the course of the study, it was observed that exercise consistently outperformed both medication and counselling as a primary treatment method for mental health.

Key findings of this study:

1. Improved symptom relief: participants who engaged in regular exercise experienced a significant reduction in symptoms including depression, anxiety, and stress. Exercise was found to be particularly effective in alleviating mild to moderate symptoms.

2. Enhanced overall wellbeing: beyond symptom relief, exercise was associated with an overall improvement in participants’ quality of life and overall wellbeing. Exercise had a positive effect on mood, self-esteem, and overall mental outlook, leading to a greater sense of fulfilment and happiness.

3. Comparable or superior results: in comparison to medication and counselling, exercise consistently demonstrated comparable or superior results in managing mental health.

Time and time again we find more compelling evidence that adding regular physical activity into your lifestyle may reduce reliance on medication, minimise potential side effects, and help you to feel empowered to take an active role in your wellbeing.

Just begin with a 10 minute walk daily, or whatever is comfortable for you, being out in the sunshine and getting natural vitamin d from the sun (within reason) along with being in nature generally is also beneficial for you mental health.

If you have challenges regarding movement, seek advice from an appropriate exercise/fitness professional to find something that works for you. While this is great news and will be very helpful for many, this is not a one size fits all recommendation.

Please seek professional advice and support regarding medication for mental health issues. Do not cease any medication without appropriate supervision.

Enjoy your walking; I always make point of noticing anything interesting, cute or beautiful when I am out and about. I always look at the clouds, the trees, flowers, birds, other animals.

I look for opportunities for wonder or even moments of joy and I find them.

Reference: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/03/02/bjsports-2022-106195

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