Exercise for mental health

Mental Health ConceptWe’ve all heard time and time again what the benefits of exercising are: Lower body weight, decreased blood pressure and cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and diabetes, improved energy levels, etc etc etc. But did you also know that it helps to improve brain function and decreases your risk for mental health diseases later in life?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 15% of the population, or greater than 700 million people, should expect to be diagnosed with a mental health condition after they reach the age of 60. And, a mental health issue later in life can also negatively affect your outcomes from other physical conditions or diseases you may be suffering from. You do not want to forget to take your medications, miss your doctor appointments, or be unable to exercise due to a mental illness. So the time to start improving your physical and mental health is now.

So what type of exercise is good for mental health?

When choosing to exercise for mental health, the studies are still up in the air regarding implementing mentally challenging games to prevent mental illness such as Lumosity. In a recent article posted on the BBC News website, they found little evidence to support the theory that mentally challenging activities such as reading or solving puzzles will help prevent or delay mental diseases. However, this study did show that even a brisk walk a few times a week could help. So along with helping your overall health, exercising has also been proven to help delay or reduce the likelihood of developing mental illnesses later in life. Our advice would be to go with what has been shown to help (exercising) and then add the mental challenging games as a supplement. But we would also suggest speaking with a healthcare professional, which includes your physical therapist, to get an exercise program tailored specifically to you. While a fast walk a few times a week may benefit one person, it may not be challenging enough for the next person to provide the maximal benefit.

What are other ways to help reduce your risk of mental health diseases?

Vital senior couple in the gymAlong with exercising there are other risk factors that have shown to contribute to developing mental health diseases later in life. In a recent study published in Science Daily found that alongside exercising, the following factors also helped to reduce the chance of developing dementia, one of the most common mental illnesses in the elderly, by 60%:

  1. Cessation of smoking
  2. Keep a low body weight
  3. Consuming a healthy diet
  4. A low alcohol Intake

This study was performed over the course of 35 years using 2,235 men. The number one thing this study found to be the strongest mitigating factor… Exercise! So time to pay attention to what has been proven to work and take a walk, find yourself a personal trainer, or participate in a sport. But as always, we recommend that you see your physician or physical therapist first about participating in a new exercise regimen or sport. Call us today for an evaluation and start to decrease your chances of mental illnesses today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office

Where to Find Quality Health Care Information Online

A violet stethoscope on a white laptop computerWith the growth of the Internet, we now have at our fingertips an enormous and almost inconceivable amount of knowledge. There is no question that the Internet cannot answer! However, this does not mean that everything is true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do take what’s posted on the web as fact.  It would take years to compile all of the false information out there so we will not be providing that today. But, we would, however, like to share a few of the more reputable sources for accurate and up-to-date health care information.

  • WebMD.com – A great resource for health related information and tools. They have expert medical practitioners on their staff that review all the published content and take extra measure to make sure they are providing credible information.
  • MedlinePlus.com – Through its extensive research database it provides the most up-to-date information on most health care topics with easy to use navigation tools, videos, illustrations, and dictionary of medical terms.
  • MayoClinic.org – Is a website that produces content provided by more than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers with ties to the world renown Mayo Clinic.
  • Synergympt.com – Okay, so we had to put our website on this list! After all we provide a great resource of information on orthopedic injuries, women’s health issues, and health tips. Check it out, we think you will be impressed!

As physical therapists we often have patients that will self-diagnosis or even self-treat due to health care information that they found online, even from these reputable sources. At times the patients have been correct and have performed the right stretches or exercises, but there are even more cases of patients who have either delayed their healing or made things worse by becoming their own doctor or physical therapist.  Just because you researched shoulder pain from one of these websites does not mean the diagnosis you think you have is the actual diagnosis. For example, if you have a torn shoulder muscle but through your research think you have tendonitis, which can present very similar to a tear, you could be doing the wrong treatments and making things worse. So use this information with a grain of salt and please do not disregard the value of a physical exam and diagnosis by a licensed professional.  If you do suffer from an injury your best bet is to stop by and see one of our physical therapists today. At our clinics you will get a personalized examination and diagnosis that will most often lead you to a quicker recovery.

Call to schedule an appointment today!


Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office