Get phys­i­cal for men­tal well-be­ing

Central Queensland News - - LIFE | HOROSCOPES - HEALTH­IER, HAP­PIER YOU KAIT­LYN BRUSCHI Ac­cred­ited prac­tis­ing di­eti­tian

WITH rates of phys­i­cal and men­tal ill­ness alarm­ingly high through­out Aus­tralia, it comes as no sur­prise that re­searchers are start­ing to look at how our phys­i­cal health and life­style choices im­pact our men­tal health and vice versa.

The beauty of this is that through some sim­ple life­style changes we are able to im­prove not only our phys­i­cal health but our emo­tional well-be­ing too.

Nu­tri­tion

A wealth of re­search con­ducted over the past 50-plus years has demon­strated a strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween our food choices and our long-term health.

The Mediter­ranean diet, for ex­am­ple, has been in­ves­ti­gated in depth due to its pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

In more re­cent years, this has turned to the role of spe­cific nu­tri­ents such as vi­ta­min B12, fo­late, iron and omega 3 in keep­ing our body and mind work­ing ef­fi­ciently.

Fill­ing up on veg­eta­bles, fruit, lean pro­tein and whole­grain carbs en­sures you get the spread of nu­tri­ents your body needs.

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity

Ex­er­cise can do so much more than just keep us phys­i­cally healthy.

Reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity has been shown to im­prove brain func­tion, stim­u­late the re­lease of en­dor­phins (the happy hor­mones), im­prove sleep qual­ity and re­duce ox­i­da­tion in the body as­so­ci­ated with poor men­tal health.

Un­for­tu­nately up to 70% of Aus­tralians are not meet­ing the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity guide­lines of 150 min­utes of ex­er­cise each week and miss­ing out on th­ese ben­e­fits.

How can you get more move­ment into your week?

Caf­feine and al­co­hol

De­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, many of us turn to ei­ther caf­feine as a pick-me-up or al­co­hol as a re­lax­ant.

This ap­proach can work in the short term but can lead to is­sues if it be­comes a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence.

Both al­co­hol and caf­feine can ex­ac­er­bate un­der­ly­ing men­tal health is­sues, mask­ing them un­til things boil over.

Al­co­hol, in par­tic­u­lar, is also do­ing no favours for our phys­i­cal health.

Call to ac­tion

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion de­fines health as “a state of com­plete phys­i­cal, men­tal and social well-be­ing and not merely the ab­sence of disease or in­fir­mity”. This def­i­ni­tion re­ally brings home the strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween our phys­i­cal and men­tal health and the im­por­tance of look­ing af­ter both.

En­cour­ag­ingly, by mak­ing a few small changes to your life­style (be it food, ex­er­cise, al­co­hol or caf­feine) you are able to live a health­ier and hap­pier life.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

HEALTH IM­PROVE­MENT: Ex­plore the link be­tween phys­i­cal and men­tal ill­ness and how to best look af­ter both.

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