Exercise after a brain injury and the benefits to mental health

Exercise is great and can benefit you in so many different ways.

If you have a brain injury, you may have physical problems meaning exercise may be a big part of your overall rehabilitation.  If you have no physical affects, but your emotions and cognitive function are affected, staying active can be a great way to benefit you, your general overall health and rehabilitation.  Even with no brain injury, being active is a key way to improve your mental health and wellbeing overall.

Why? Because physical activity has many benefits to your mind and body.  Firstly, exercise will improve your mood.  This is because when you’re active, endorphins (feel good chemicals) are released in your brain.

You will probably find you also sleep better.  The reason for this is physical activity increases time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase, which helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety.Exercise after brain injuryHow much should I exercise?  To feel the benefits of physical activity, you should aim to exercise for 20-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week.  If you are a brain injury survivor, you should consult your health care advisor prior to adding exercise into your routine to ensure you know the types of exercises you should be doing and how often you should be doing them.

Some of our Service Users participate in regular exercise classes, and I asked them what they gained from these.  One Service User said, “The social aspect encourages and motivates me”, another said “I have a real sense of achievement after my sessions”, and one other quote from a Service User was “Exercise is better as a group as we encourage each other”.  These quotes show that there can also be a social aspect of physical activity and that, in turn, can improve overall mental health and wellbeing.

Most importantly, make sure you’re enjoying it!  Physical activity can be draining, and it can take a lot of motivation to get into your routine, however once you have started and you’re feeling the benefits it will be a lot easier and more enjoyable.  Finally, please remember not to push yourself too hard, it’s important to know your limits and exercise safely.


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