Today an essential part of mental health is exercise or movement medicine, as medical professionals call it. Yet, many of us struggle to stay motivated and make exercise a regular part of our weekly routine.

Lorraine Aldridge, a registered psychologist and certified fitness instructor, explains that Movement Medicine is the perfect solution for anyone looking for an activity they can sustain.

“Based on my clinical experience, Movement Medicine combined with proven psychology methods like Self-Determination Theory can significantly boost an individual’s mental health.”

What is Movement Medicine? 

Movement Medicine came to the attention of the mental health community in 2014 when a study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that people who practised it had better psychological wellbeing. Since then, it has snowballed in popularity worldwide.

Overall, Movement Medicine integrates a broad range of exercises including everything from walking, dancing, and weights to soaking in the delights of nature.  Additional mood boosters like positive affirmations, mindfulness and relaxation techniques are often added to the Movement Medicine mix to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

“Overall, exercise is about creating an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding that encourages people to move in whatever fashion feels right, thus allowing them to explore their body, mind, and emotions without judgement or expectation.” 

Notably, the practice also teaches people body moves that help them hack into their natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals to improve mood, reduce stress, and increase feelings of wellbeing – all while having fun.

Why is Movement Medicine good for mental health?

Initially, adding Movement Medicine to therapy recommendations may seem unconventional, but evidence-based research shows numerous benefits to mental health. Not only does physical activity help release endorphins—which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals—but it also helps build confidence and encourages self-expression.

“Movement is medicine, and it’s helped many of my clients improve concentration and focus, gain greater self-awareness, build resilience to stress, and enhance their sense of control over their lives,” says Lorraine.

Everything from fidgeting to high intensity weight or interval training is a movement that keeps mind and body healthy. For example, a recent study revealed that taking as little as five minutes to stand up from your desk and move around can help improve your mood and energy levels and even reduce cravings.

“Work, walk five minutes and work. A small change like this could make all the difference to your ‘at work’ mental wellbeing,” says Lorraine.

Lorraine Aldridge Turning Point Psychology

Conclusion

Nearly all doctors, psychologists, and online mental health websites stress how vital movement is for mental health. And for a psychologist and certified fitness instructor like Lorraine, incorporating Movement Medicine into therapy is a natural go-to.

“The good news is you don’t have to be fit or flexible. Rather, Movement Medicine helps reinforce positive habits while improving your physical wellbeing – often resulting in improved overall mental health.”

So why not take on the mantra ‘movement is medicine’ and give it a try? Who knows what you might discover about yourself? Remember ‘action brings motivation’.