When we are feeling down or our mental health is in turmoil the last thing we feel like doing is strapping our joggers on and going for a walk, run or visiting the gym.

But while exercise is the furthest thing from our mind during these periods, studies continue to show that getting active can be the best thing for us.

Australia’s leading exercise and mental health researcher Dr Simon Rosenbaum of UNSW has conducted a number of studies testing the impact of exercise on mental disorders.

The results are telling, suggesting that even small amounts of activity can have a positive impact on mental health.

So if you’re uncomfortable about heading the gym, you can still improve your mental health and wellbeing through simple, at-home exercises, such as walks, light resistance exercises or playing sport with friends.

If you’re having trouble getting started, here are a few key tips from Dr Rosenbaum’s study.

  • Keep it simple when your motivation is down: pick a small goal whether it be walking to the mail box, around the block or to the shops to get a bottle of milk
  • Keep a diary – write down your exercise goals (no matter how small or big they may be) and review them regularly, you can use your mobile phone as a pedometer and record your steps and gradually increase your time spent moving as your fitness improves
  • Trial different exercises to find the one that suits you, exercise isn’t a one size fits all so finding what works for you can make the world of difference
  • Grab a low-cost elastic exercise band, which can be used to replicate a number of traditional gym movements like a bench press or squat

 Unfortunately, people with mental health disorders face a higher rate of metabolic syndrome concerns, making physical health and fitness even more important.

Keeping fit will assist those who are dealing with mental health issues to reduce the risk of a range of illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

Not only that but your depression, anxiety and stress scale scores should improve as well making sure you feel better both physically and mentally.