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Mental Health Awareness Week 2013

07:38 EDT 14 May 2013 | Anya de Iongh

The 13-19th May in the UK is Mental Health Awareness Week, a week where the Mental Health Foundation runs national campaigns looking at mental health, and this year specifically, the impact of exercise and physical activity on mental health and wellbeing.

Since endorphins were discovered, it has been well known that exercise can give you a feel-good factor. But the wider impact and potential of this simple process are now being appreciated and harnessed in the mental health field.
The concept of exercise as a therapeutic intervention is growing and has been used for the full range of mental health conditions. As more studies look at  this, the mechanisms of action of exercise are becoming clearer, in terms of the metabolic and physiological reactions as well as the psychological impact.
The benefits are potentially available for all patients, with a recent study looking at the impact of yoga for elderly patients with dementia. Physical and mental benefits were recorded, and the study recommended that this be incorporated into the routines of care homes.

The phenomena of well being boosted by exercise in elderly people is clear. Exercise can modify the mental wellbeing of this particular group of people. 
The other extreme, young male patients with depression, were the focus of another study and the conclusion was that exercise can reduce some of the symptoms of depression when part of an integrated care plan that included traditional therapy options such as CBT.

The reaction of different conditions to exercise needs to be studied in further detail, and a study is being conducted in the area of PTSD which looks at the impact of exercise in addition to standard treatment options. 
With the prevalence of mental health issues rising, a simple option such as exercise and physical activity is important to know about to support the traditional therapeutic methods in helping  the one in four of us who suffer from poor mental health at some point.
Key Words: Mental Health

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