Mental health & exercise physiology

Mental health and exercise have a undeniably strong relationship, and both are important components of overall health and wellbeing.
What is mental health?

Mental health refers to a person's emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It relates to how individuals think, feel, and act, particularly in response to factors including stress, decision making, and relationships with others. Throughout life, mental health is a significant factor for overall health, all the way from childhood, to adolescence, through to adulthood. Common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and many others, which can all significantly impact how a person feels, thinks, and acts.

Positive mental health is crucial for individuals to cope with challenges, maintain healthy relationships, and improve their overall well-being.

How can an exercise physiologist help?

As exercise physiologists, we can prescribe specialised exercise and physical activity programs for individuals struggling with mental health concerns.

We create these supportive environments by implementing tools such as the below:

These tools can assess physical fitness, overall health condition, and specific mental health needs. This allows us to design a personalised exercise program tailored to the individual’s goals, abilities, and mental health requirements. This may include cardiovascular exercises, strength training, flexibility exercises, or a combination of different activities.

Education and guidance on the benefits of exercise for mental health are a powerful way to make a change towards improved wellbeing. They provide an understanding of how exercise affects various aspects of mental well-being, such as stress reduction, improved mood, and enhanced cognitive function. Education includes, but is not limited to, information on the recommended frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise to achieve optimal mental health benefits.

Exercise physiologists play a key role in motivating individuals to adhere to their exercise regimen. We provide ongoing support, encouragement, and accountability, which can be essential for individuals struggling with motivation or low mood. We look to help individuals set realistic goals, track progress, and modify exercise programs as needed.

Exercise physiologists monitor an individual’s response to exercise and adjust the program as necessary. We assess changes in mental health symptoms, physical fitness levels, and overall well-being to ensure the exercise program is effective and safe. They may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists, GPs, dietitians, or psychiatrists, to provide comprehensive care.

In addition to exercise, we can provide recommendations for other lifestyle factors that impact mental health. This can include basic advice on sleep hygiene, stress management techniques, and healthy nutrition habits. We take a holistic approach to support overall mental well-being and can refer individuals to more equipped professionals for more in-depth assistance outside of our scope.

What can affect our mental health?

There is no singular cause of mental health struggles. They are often influenced by a combination of various factors.

Factors can include:

Certain mental health conditions can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. HOWEVER, having a family history of a mental health disorder does not necessarily mean an individual will develop the same condition (1).

Imbalances in chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters, can affect mental health. Changes in brain structure and function can also contribute to mental health disorders (2).

Traumatic experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or the death of a loved one, can increase the risk of developing mental health issues. Trauma can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental well-being (3).

Living in stressful or unstable environments, exposure to violence or abuse, poverty, or significant life changes like divorce or loss of employment can contribute to mental health struggles (4).

Dealing with chronic illnesses or managing physical health problems can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression, affecting mental health (5).

Substance abuse can directly impact brain chemistry and increase the risk of developing mental health disorders. It can also worsen existing mental health conditions (6).

Feeling socially isolated, experiencing discrimination, or having a lack of supportive relationships can affect mental health negatively (7).

Certain mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may emerge or be triggered during late adolescence or early adulthood. Hormonal changes during puberty can also contribute to mood disorders (8).

What are the benefits of exercise on mental health?

There are many benefits of exercising for your mental health, we've listed the most important ones below but the list is endless.
Reduction of stress and anxiety
Engaging in physical activity can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Exercise stimulates a relaxation response within the body, decreasing the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Regular exercise can also help improve resilience to stress and enhance the ability to cope with difficult situations (9, 10).
Enhanced brain function and cognitive abilities
Exercise has been associated with improved cognitive function and enhanced brain health. It can enhance memory, concentration, and the ability to learn, which all contribute to better mental wellness (12).
Social opportunities and connection
Exercise can provide opportunities for social interaction and connection, which are essential for mental well-being. Participating in group activities or sports can help individuals feel part of a community, provide emotional support, and combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Exercise has been shown to enhance sleep quality and duration, which is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Regular physical activity can help combat insomnia and improve overall sleep patterns, leading to increased energy levels and improved mood (11).

Regular exercise promotes a sense of achievement and mastery. Physical activity can help individuals feel more capable and accomplished, leading to positive self-perception, and improved mental well-being.

Engaging in physical activity can serve as a valuable distraction from negative thoughts and worries. Focusing on the present moment and the physical sensations of exercise can promote relaxation and provide relief from mental stress.

Regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. By taking care of the body through physical activity, individuals can promote overall well-being, which in turn positively impacts mental health.

Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural mood elevators. Endorphins promote feelings of happiness, reduce stress, and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety (9).

It's important to note that mental health struggles are complex and result from a combination of factors. Everyone’s experience is unique, and the causes and contributing factors of mental health issues can vary greatly.

Seeking professional help and support is crucial for understanding and managing mental health concerns.

Latest insights

  1. Uher R. Gene–Environment Interactions in Severe Mental Illness. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2014;5.
  2. Spenrath MA, Clarke ME, Kutcher S. The science of brain and biological development: implications for mental health research, practice and policy. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011;20(4):298-304.
  3. Kleber RJ. Trauma and public mental health: A focused review. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2019;10:451.
  4. Schmidt CW. Environmental connections: a deeper look into mental illness. Environ Health Perspect. 2007;115(8):A404, a6-10.
  5. Hopman W, Harrison M, Coo H, Friedberg E, Buchanan M, VanDenKerkhof E. Associations between chronic disease, age and physical and mental health status. Chronic Dis Can. 2009;29(3):108-16.
  6. Volkow ND. Drug abuse and mental illness: progress in understanding comorbidity. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2001;158(8):1181-3.
  7. Brandt L, Liu S, Heim C, Heinz A. The effects of social isolation stress and discrimination on mental health. Translational psychiatry. 2022;12(1):398.
  8. Pfeifer JH, Allen NB. Puberty Initiates Cascading Relationships Between Neurodevelopmental, Social, and Internalizing Processes Across Adolescence. Biol Psychiatry. 2021;89(2):99-108.
  9. Basso JC, Suzuki WA. The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. Brain Plast. 2017;2(2):127-52.
  10. Schultchen D, Reichenberger J, Mittl T, Weh TRM, Smyth JM, Blechert J, et al. Bidirectional relationship of stress and affect with physical activity and healthy eating. Br J Health Psychol. 2019;24(2):315-33.
  11. Banno M, Harada Y, Taniguchi M, Tobita R, Tsujimoto H, Tsujimoto Y, et al. Exercise can improve sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PeerJ. 2018;6:e5172.
  12. Mandolesi L, Polverino A, Montuori S, Foti F, Ferraioli G, Sorrentino P, et al. Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits. Front Psychol. 2018;9:509.


Trent Brock | Mobile Exercise Physiologist

Trent Brock

mobile exercise physiologist
I have had 3 major passions throughout my life; exercise, competitive sports, and a strong will to help others. Those 3 factors made it an easy decision to pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. By encouraging and facilitating evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, I can help individuals living with various chronic conditions, particularly those living with neurological conditions.
I see exercise physiology as an extremely beneficial practice that enables clients to experience an improved quality of life. Personally, being able to provide insight into exercise and other tools that can equip clients with helpful skills and wellbeing improvements is extremely fulfilling. Being able to improve not only an individual, but their support network’s day-to-day life fills me with great joy and motivates me to continue to be better so that I can do better. I understand that everyone has a different view of exercise and there is no one-size fits all approach, so I operate with an open and adaptive mind, supported by evidence-based practices. If you or anyone that you know is looking to improve their quality of life and begin a journey to improved living, or just have any general questions, get in touch and let's have a chat!
Michelle Marais AEP

Michelle Marais

mobile exercise physiologist
My passion for movement, health, and helping others led me to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Through this role, I facilitate exercise-based rehabilitation for individuals with various chronic conditions, with a primary interest and area of expertise in neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is about equipping clients with valuable skills that make daily tasks easier and empowering them to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.I take great pride in being a part of my clients' rehabilitation journey and exploring new methods with them to find the optimal exercise approach that works best for them.If you have any questions or are interested in starting your journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me.
Angus Sullivan AEP

Angus Sullivan AEP

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
As an accredited exercise physiologist, I see my role as an opportunity to facilitate a safe and effective environment for my clients to explore their physical capabilities, identify areas where they would like to improve, and then prescribe meaningful and appropriate activities to achieve these improvements.
I currently work predominantly with individuals living with disability and have a keen interest in acquired brain injuries (ABI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and rare neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is not only about achieving narrow objective goals (eg. 1 Rep Max bench press), but improving an individual’s lifestyle and making activities of daily living easier (mobilising, transferring, feeding, and more).
I love what I do and enjoy learning new methods and discussing different opinions about exercise. I am always happy to chat about it so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share!
Our team of mobile exercise physiologists

Walter White

manager of good vibes
Being active has taken on a whole new meaning and I am 100% here for it. I like to fink I'm pretty active, and I keep up de vibes during team meetings - just making sure everyone's hands are always moving (across my butt) because I know dat any exercise is good exercise.
I keep close to everyone, real close, just to keep dem on their toes when dey walk by too.
Fings are always better when I am der so if you need some good vibes, I will be der for you.
Brb just going to have a snooze.
Love and licks,
Brittney Kenward

Brittney Kenward

co-founder / Operations manager
I’m NOT an exercise physiologist, but I do take my hat off to my team and get to admire the work they do each and every day. Be Physiology means that we’re able to apply our passion, and our experience, to make exercise physiology more accessible to the people who need it the most.
You might hear the team describe me as ‘the person who does everything else’, and that can be translated to ‘marketing and operations'. My background is marketing and business, which I’ve lived and breathed since 2011. I’ve worked in both the agency and corporate spaces, across many industries, with many amazing people and now with Be Physiology, I get to explore the health industry further and continue to meet the most incredible people who are the ones to define motivation.
If you’ve met Harry and Aj, you’d know that they don’t really need marketing - they’re genuine, have ridiculous amounts of charisma, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about helping people to be a better version of themselves. But, sometimes getting an introduction is the hardest part and that’s where I come in.
If you want to chat, a coffee, a laugh, I’m always here to make one or all of them happen.

So call me and let’s keep sharing the love!
Keegan Betts AEP

Keegan Betts AEP

mobile exercise physiologist
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, my work is driven by my passion for movement, health, and empowering others. With my experience working with individuals of all ages who have neurological conditions such as autism, stroke, and cerebral palsy, I focus on delivering activity-based therapy to optimise their independence.
Seeing people empowered and handling daily tasks easier is incredibly rewarding, as well as being able to give others the tools to improve their mental health and prevent secondary health conditions.
I know the importance of creating a welcoming and safe environment particularly when improving our health and I always strive to ensure everybody feels supported by the team around them and receives the highest level of care.
Get in touch today and let's make it happen.
Kristen McCluskey

Kristen McCluskey

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
If you spend as little as 10 minutes a day exercising, it will still make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health - this is a fact and it is very often underappreciated! The benefits of exercise don’t discriminate and the rumours are true, exercise is medicine.
Spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions and women’s health are areas I find to be very dynamic and that I am particularly passionate about, but all aspects of exercise physiology are unique and have a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and I want to continue bringing it to those who will benefit the most from it.
I'm passionate about learning new methods and learning what my clients enjoy and how they approach exercise. I am always happy to chat about the many benefits and outcomes of exercise physiology so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share.
If you’re interested in learning more about who I am or want to ask any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .
Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

marketing assistant
My name is Charlotte, and I'm a sports enthusiast currently studying for a marketing degree. Although I am not an exercise physiologist, I have a passion for sports having a background in ski instructing and adaptive skiing. Like the team, I believe exercise is medicine and share a similar passion and values to help and motivate others I meet.
I've been fortunate enough to work globally with a background in event management, ski instructing, administrating, and climbing supervisor. However, working alongside the Be Physiology team as my dream role in marketing is a highlight. If you have had the pleasure of meeting the team, you will know their genuine, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate to help others. These are values that I also pride myself in, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues.
Harry White AEP

Harry White AEP

co-founder / supervisor
Exercise physiology combines two of my favourite things: health and helping people. As an accredited exercise physiologist with more than seven years’ clinical experience, I have treated people presenting with a wide variety of health conditions and concerns, postural issues, chronic injuries and rehabilitation needs.
My expertise is spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders and helping my clients to achieve an improved quality of life through rehabilitation and functional training. Rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders can be slow but incredibly rewarding for clients when results are achieved, no matter how small. Assisting people through learning useful skills and functional training is the most important role that an EP can play to help people lead a more fulfilled life.
Working for many years with people who have suffered serious injury or live with a disability, I know that taking a proactive approach to your health changes your life. If you care for your body, it will take care of you.
I’m passionate about helping people live a long, healthy and active life, so call today.