Exercise for Mental Health

Published: April 20, 2018

By Robert Weiss, DPM

In today’s world of uncertainty, exercise can be beneficial for our children. Exercise has been known to relieve stress in minds of youths.

The enormous increase in the number of people who exercise suggests that exercise offers more to an individual than mere psychological benefits. In an individual, there is a clear relationship between mind and body, and in fact, rehabilitative medicine shows that many achieve good mental and physical functioning during the period of disability.

There is some research which suggests that exercise programs may be useful in treating a large number of disabling conditions, both physically and mentally. Self-evaluation, that so often accompanies a disabling condition, may be combated through the use of exercise as a treatment regime.

A more positive attitude of one’s self may develop along with a greater awareness of one’s physiological responses to stress. It has been found that rather than lengthier treatment, such as counseling and psychotherapy, positive changes in personality can be evident after as short a period as one month with participation in an intensive exercise program.

It is most important that such individuals be monitored by a physician knowledgeable in this type of exercise programming to determine if the individual is capable of participation without a threat to their health. Those whose disabilities limit ambulation would be exempt—although we see wheel chair contestants in races.

Many physically disabling conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, visual and auditory defects, upper extremity amputations and some others would probably gain a great deal of value from scheduled exercise programs.

The positive changes in mental health have been known to occur as a result of exercise and have been cited as being an effective means for experiencing the unconscious.

It has also been stated that rhythms of breathing and exercise seem to generate a sort of physiological medium that may be compared to the peacefulness achieved by what people might align to the psycho physiological benefits of transcendental meditation.

Research among the emotionally distressful symptoms reveals that exercise has been shown to change addiction to alcohol and other drugs, sleep disturbances, over-eating and smoking. A proper exercise program may inspire these people with an opportunity to set their goals.

When these goals are understood and reached, it can generate a sense of pride, accomplishment and self-esteem, thereby making it easier to love oneself.


Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathon & has a practice in Darien; affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle. 

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