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The importance of physical health and mental health in at-risk communities

by Craig Boyle

Our CHC43415 Certificate IV in Leisure and Health helps train students how to use leisure and health programs to support the psychological, social, emotional and physical needs of clients in aged care, health and community services. It’s an exciting, developing career field to get involved in – and showcases the importance, and the relationship, between physical and mental health.

A deep body of evidence has linked physical and mental wellbeing to one another. Better physical health helps alleviate the symptoms of depression, while mental health disorders can also lead to worsened physical health. This relationship means that staying physically healthy is extremely important. Unfortunately, many people struggle to maintain good health. In aged care, healthcare and community service settings, this is especially true.

You can help change this! If you have a passion for health, you can help transform the lives of those who may not have the means, knowledge or desire to pursue physical health. The communities most at risk from reduced physical activity that you can help include:

Reducing the burden of illness in aged care facilities

In an aged care facility, physical exercise can help alleviate the debilitating effects of ageing on the body. Exercise programs reduce stress and also alleviate the symptoms of depression – which heavily affects residents of aged care facilities. According to estimates, around 30% of those living in residential aged care facilities suffer from depression.

A good exercise program can help lift both physical and mental health for residents. Studies done at the University of Pittsburgh in the US showed promising results. They found those who started a moderate regime of exercise later in life suffered a shorter period of disability. They also had an ability to rebound from serious health conditions compared to non-exercisers.

While there have been no conclusive studies to suggest that exercise for elderly people in residential care facilities aids depression, there is evidence that found 16 weeks of regular exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in the general population. In addition, evidence has suggested that exercise can aid cognitive function in dementia patients.

Exercise is a low-cost, effective way to improve physical health in elderly patients, reduce the impact of dementia and will likely offer mental health benefits too.

Aiding health and physical wellbeing in healthcare

Medical fitness facilities and programs are becoming more common in healthcare environments. To aid recovery, an exercise program can boost patient health and overall happiness. However, the challenge is to design a program or routine that doesn’t impact on a patient’s current health issues.

Many people in healthcare facilities suffer from chronic pain. However, exercise has been proven to help alleviate chronic pain – but only when performed with an understanding of a patient’s physical limitations. That’s why it’s important for a qualified professional to plan proper exercise programs.

Promoting wellbeing within communities

In community service work, you’ll interact with people who are encountering some difficulties. An important pillar of many community centres are their exercise programs. These help give young people or those in trouble a place to exercise, meet others and ultimately, feel better as a result. While exercise may not be able to address the problems that community services users encounter, the benefits to health and mental health can help give them a boost.

Ultimately, a good physical exercise program can help lift the spirits of people from all walks of life. If you have a passion for exercise, why not turn it into a rewarding, community-focused career? Study a CHC43415 Certificate IV in Leisure and Health to create exercise routines that will benefit the physical and mental health of those who need it most.

Interested? Enrol in our CHC43415 Certificate IV in Leisure and Health and start helping communities today.

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