Shake it off or move slow - here’s how to exercise for mental health


1 minutes

03 October 2022

Have you noticed positive feelings following exercise – maybe even better sleep? Research shows that as little as an hour of exercise a week could significantly prevent the onset of depression1, so what are some tips for exercising for mental health?

Psychologist Susannah Kimmel explains the power of regular exercise, including its ability to reduce stress, improve sleep, and lower the risk of depression and anxiety.

Why is exercise so good for mental health?

  • It can distract you form negative thoughts.
  • Reconnect you to your body.
  • Give you a boost of feel-good chemicals in your brain, impacting your mood.
  • Exercising with others can also improve feelings of loneliness and provide social support.

3 tips around exercising for your mental health

  1. Find exercise that compliments how you're feeling. If you’re feeling anxious, you might want to try something that encourages deep breathing. Think gentle and soothing movements such as yoga or swimming.
  2. Pay attention to your body. Staying mindful as you exercise is a great way to channel your focus onto different sensations and help you detach from negative thoughts.
  3. Be accountable. Low motivation is common with mental health issues so one of the best things to work towards is accountability. Try paying in advance for exercise classes or meeting up regularly with a friend to exercise together.

When to seek help

If you think that you may be experiencing depression or anxiety, visit your GP. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms, create a health treatment plan, or refer you to a psychologist.

24/7 support, for when exercise isn't the immediate answer

There are also some great free services available through mental health organisations such as:

For a full list of services recommended by the government, check out the Head to Health service providers page.

Mental health cover you can feel good about

Find health cover that includes mental health services, for extra support when you need it most.

Find out more


1Black Dog Institute - Exercise and mood


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.