Prescribe yourself some exercise for your mental health

On the Black Dog Institute’s Exercise Your Mood Week (4-12 May 2019), experts are reminding Australians that non-medical interventions like exercise have the potential to improve your mental health and protect from the development of depression.


In a recent Medical Journal of Australia InSight+ article, Professor Katherine Boydell from the Black Dog Institute explains that non-medical factors like exercise and the arts have widespread effects on mental health. Professor Boydell and other experts argue that this needs to form part of holistic management programs for mental health issues.


Widely known as “social prescribing”, healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to prescribing schemes like exercise programs as a way to increase self-esteem, confidence and improve social and psychological wellbeing. This signals a move to formalise an approach that many GPS and allied health professionals have been using in their clinics for many years.


As part of the Black Dog Institute’s drive to get Australians moving more, the Exercise Your Mood campaign encourages people to build a regular ‘exercise hour’ into their week that suits their lifestyle to improve mental fitness and help prevent depression. Research by the Institute also shows that just one hour of physical activity each week could be enough to protect people from developing depressive symptoms.


The Black Dog Institute recognises the role exercise can play in mental health and is placing a focus on exercise programs as part of its evidence-based clinical model for treating depression and other mental health issues.


The Institute has developed a range of tools to help make it easier for people to participate in the Exercise Your Mood campaign and to build good mental health. The Snapshot App helps you measure and monitor your mental health and lifestyle factors, and the newly launched Exercise Your Mood Kickstarter guide gives real-life tips on how you can increase your physical activity.


Health and Fitness expert Michelle Bridges, who is the official Exercise Your Mood ambassador, wants to remind Australians that any form of exercise will make a difference on your mental fitness.


“A lot of people feel pressure to commit to a high impact exercise program in order to make a difference on their health and wellbeing. We are here to say that any extra physical activity you can manage on a daily basis will make a difference to your mental health. Doing any form of exercise or movement is better than doing none. This is an opportunity for Australians to get creative and look at how they can get active in a way that suits their lifestyle and needs,” said Michelle.


To get involved or to learn more about the Exercise Your Mood campaign, see


You may share your exercise journey or tips with The Black Dog Institute! Tag @blackdoginst and #ExerciseYourMood


4 May 2019.