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Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Research over the past decade has taught us about the close link between mental health and exercise. Exercise has been found to help treat and prevent depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. The goal of this worksheet is to provide a convenient source of psychoeducation for clients who might benefit from starting a basic exercise program, or increasing their level of physical activity. The first page of this worksheet lists the mental illnesses that can benefit from exercise, it provides examples of healthy workouts, and it gives tips to help people follow through with their goal.

The second page of this printout provides a template for clients to begin planning when and how they would like to begin their exercise routine. This section of the worksheet should be used as a prompt to get clients thinking about their exercise goals, and how they can realistically be achieved.

We suggest using this worksheet as a prompt for discussion in group therapy. If you want to learn more about the connection between mental health and exercise, see our guide on the subject.

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1. Paluska, S. A., & Schwenk, T. L. (2000). Physical activity and mental health. Sports medicine, 29(3), 167-180.

2. Penedo, F. J., & Dahn, J. R. (2005). Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Current opinion in psychiatry, 18(2), 189-193.

3. Raglin, J. S. (1990). Exercise and mental health. Sports Medicine, 9(6), 323-329.

4. Ströhle, A. (2009). Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of neural transmission, 116(6), 777.

5. Taylor, C. B., Sallis, J. F., & Needle, R. (1985). The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public health reports, 100(2), 195.

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