Fitness and Mental Health


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Dale Patterson, Recreational Therapist at The Royal, shares why it's so important to exercise - not just for your body but your mind too.

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Fitness and Mental Health

  1. 1. FITNESS & MENTAL HEALTH Dale Patterson, B.Sc. Kin Recreation Therapist Mood and Anxiety Disorder Inpatient Program
  2. 2. 23 ½ Hours
  3. 3. Why? • burning off stress • reducing muscle tension • boosting endorphins Exercise makes us feel better.
  4. 4. The real reason… • Exercise gets the blood pumping and then the brain starts functioning at its best • John Ratey M.D. believes that the whole point of exercise is to build and condition the brain…that the benefits to muscles and the heart & lungs are bonus side effects
  5. 5. Think of the hunter gatherers who came before us…in order to survive, physical prowess and brain power was needed to find and store food. The link between food, physical activity and learning is integral to our brain. The problem is we aren’t hunting and gathering anymore…. today most lead a sedentary life.
  6. 6. Percent 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 CANADA 51.1 51.6 52.3 52.1 52.5 Males 58.6 59.2 60.9 60.1 59.9 Females 43.5 43.9 43.7 44.2 45.0 ONTARIO 51.6 51.4 52.6 52.3 52.9 Males 59.3 58.7 60.9 59.9 60.7 Females 43.9 44.1 44.3 44.8 45.2 Body mass index, overweight or obese, self- reported, adult, by sex, provinces and territories Source: Statistics Canada, Date modified: 2013-06-17
  7. 7. Percentage diagnosed with diabetes, by sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2001 to 2010 Source: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.
  8. 8. Our modern sedentary lifestyle is threatening our very survival. The effects of a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition is making headlines.
  9. 9. Source:, October 2, 2013
  10. 10. Exercise 'as good as medicines' in treating disease The WHO says regular moderate intensity physical activity — such as walking, cycling or participating in sports — can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression, as well as cutting the risk of bone fractures and helping to control body weight. At least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week is recommended for adults. But only 53 per cent of adults achieve this, according to the Canadian Health Measures Survey.
  11. 11. What are we missing here? Inactivity is killing our brains too – it’s physically shrinking them
  12. 12. • If we want to keep our brains functioning at their best, we need to physically move our bodies – hard. • Physical activity is critical to how we think and feel. • Exercise prepares the brain for learning. • Exercise affects mood, anxiety and attention and guards against stress.
  13. 13. The brain responds to exercise like muscles do… growing with use, shrinking with inactivity
  14. 14. What about Neurotransmitters ? • They’re all about communication of thought and emotions …in the brain. • About 80% of the signaling in the brain is carried out by 2 neurotransmitters (glutamate and GABA). • Psychiatry focuses on a group of neurotransmitters (serotonin, nor epinephrine and dopamine) that act as regulators of the signaling process. • Many drugs used to improve mental health target one or more of these three neurotransmitters.
  15. 15. Neurotransmitters Serotonin • Influences mood, impulsivity, anger, and aggressiveness Nor epinephrine • Often amplifies signals that influence attention, perception motivation and arousal Dopamine • Often thought of as the learning, reward (satisfaction), attention and movement neurotransmitter, takes on sometimes contradictory roles in different parts of the brain.
  16. 16. Exercise increases levels of the neurotransmitters:  serotonin  nor epinephrine  dopamine  growth factors in the brain
  17. 17. Unlike a drug….exercise manipulates more than one neurotransmitter And… Exercise BALANCES neurotransmitters
  18. 18. Why is This Important? Exercise releases a flood of neurochemicals that physically bolster the brain’s infrastructure and can alter the effects of stress and depression on the nerve cells in the brain.
  19. 19. Understanding how physical activity improves brain function may change the way you view exercise. Your daily exercise routine may become a ‘pull’ rather than a ‘push’ . You’ll want to be physically active.
  21. 21. Exercise and Anxiety • Instinctively we want to avoid a situation that makes us feel anxious. • BUT what if we did the opposite? • What if we used exercise to help with feelings of anxiety? - It would work on both the body and the brain
  22. 22. Exercise & Anxiety • It provides a distraction • It reduces muscle tension • It builds brain resources • It teaches a different outcome • It reroutes your circuits • It improves your resilience • It sets you free
  23. 23. Take Away Messages • Move • Every day • It’s good for your brain & your body • It’s good for your mental health and your physical health • Your mind and body are connected
  24. 24. THANK YOU