Physical and Mental Health are codependent. Studies show that physical health plays a significant role in managing some mental health conditions, in particular depression and anxiety. While depression and anxiety can make one less willing to participate in sports activities or join a gym, exercise has actually been proven to decrease many of the symptoms of these disorders. Acute anxiety symptoms and panic disorder both improve when regular physical activity is integrated into daily life.
Currentlyonly 33% of adults achieve the recommended levels of weekly physical activity. In Hong Kong, the number of citizens achieving the level of the “baseline indicator” is higher (48.6%), yet more than half of population still do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity. According to the study conducted by Hong Kong Community Sports Committee, only 46.9% reported engaging in leisure sports activities.
This is a significant problem among youth as well. The World Health Organisation recommends at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day for young people aged 5 to 17; only 4.7% of Hong Kong’s youth achieves this much physical activity.
Depression and anxiety are often recurrent, and often life-long diseases that come with many societal and individual costs. Anxiety and depression are prevalent causes of psychosocial disability, and physical illness. Both disorders affect millions of individuals worldwide regardless of their income, gender and ethnicity; depression being more common than tuberculosis, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Despite many available treatments for depression and anxiety, including therapy and medication, many individuals experiencing these disorders do not experience symptom remission, which highlights the importance of integrating of healthy physical activity into daily life. Physical activity has been found to have positive effect on mood and creativity just after one session. Apart from mental health benefits, exercising also improves cardiovascular and metabolic systems, which are highly beneficial for physical health.
Increased fitness levels have also positively correlated with better body satisfaction and higher self-esteem. Physical activity has also been linked to decreased stress levels, and better mood and emotional regulation. Furthermore many studies have found physical activity to be as effective as other alternative treatments for anxiety and depression, such as pharmacological and psychological therapies. More benefits can be found here.
Studies have investigated the efficacy of different kinds of sports on the mental condition of individuals, and have found that all types of physical activity positively influence mental well-being. Every individual can find an activity that suits them best, and start the way towards better physical and mental health. Move it for Mental Health seeks to do just this.
Learn more and join Move It for Mental Health in January by visiting www.moveithk.com
Paluska, S. A., Schwenk, T. L. (2000). Physical and Mental Health: Current Concepts. Sports medicine. 29(3), 167-181.
Community Sports Committee. (2018). Study on Sport for All – the Participation Patterns of Hong Kong People in Physical Activities.
Taylor, C. B., Sallis, J. F., Needle, R. (2007). The Relation of Physical Activity & Exercise to Mental Health. Public Health Reports. 100(2).
Hong Kong Playground Association (2018).