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Keeping up physical activity will become even more important for improving and maintaining mental health during COVID-19 restrictions, according to a senior lecturer at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University.
Dr Megan Teychenne said physical activity is well known as a key risk factor for the prevention and management of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Dr Teychenne’s recent research found that physical activity, even in low doses, was associated with a lower risk of mental illness.
“While current physical activity guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two sessions of muscle strengthening exercises per week, our research has shown that for mental health, something is better than nothing,” she explained.
She said it was pleasing that the Australian Government had recognised the importance of exercise for health during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Even during these tough restrictions, the Government has allowed exercise as one of only four reasons we can leave the home – clearly demonstrating its value in terms of our physical and mental health,” she said.
“Mental disorders are already among the leading causes of disease and disability globally. We need to do everything we can, including building in regular physical activity to our days, to maintain mental health while we are isolated.”
With gyms and exercise classes now shut down across the country, Dr Teychenne has offered some suggestions to build some movement into your day:
“Make sure your chosen activity is something that you enjoy. That way you are more likely to stick to it and achieve mental health benefits. If you generally dislike vigorous-intensity physical activity, don’t force yourself into high-intensity home exercise routines,” Dr Teychenne said.
“The most important thing is that you find time every day to move your body – even if it is just to walk up and down your driveway or a couple of laps around the block a few times a day. Regular exercise will help boost your state of mind and protect your mental wellbeing.”
If you are experiencing any mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, please reach out to one of the various national support services or see this Beyond Blue link for mental health resources during the coronavirus outbreak.
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