How can exercise improve your mental health?

TMS Expert Blog

by Josh, TMS Technician, Havant

Josh’s first ‘TMS Expert Blog’ explores how exercise can help to improve mental health.


In the UK, 1 in 4 adults will suffer with a diagnosable mental health condition each year.

Although some cases require formal treatment such as medication, therapy or TMS, some can be boosted naturally by factors such as exercise, sleep, diet and social support.

According to the NHS, it is proven that people who exercise regularly have up to a 30% lower risk of developing depression. This blog will look in to why exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health.


The physical benefits of exercise are recommended worldwide, to boost your muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness and to reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and some cancers.

The NHS recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week through different activities to maintain this. But by getting fitter you can also raise your self-esteem, which can boost your mood as you start to feel more confident about yourself. This can occur as you start to see positive changes to your body image, as well as improvements in your performance as you become fitter. This positive self-esteem can give you an extra motivation to take care of yourself and overcome life’s daily challenges, which is the first reason why exercise can improve your mental health.

Secondly, exercise helps to stimulate your brain to release chemicals called neurotransmitters that naturally boost your mood and sense of well-being. The neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline are released in the brain which helps to restore the chemical imbalance linked to mental health conditions. In response to these neurotransmitters, endorphins are released in the body which are your feel-good hormones that lift your mood and reduce pain, stress and anxiety. This natural boost after physical activity is commonly known as a “runner’s high”.

Depression can often be worse in darker months due to our limited sunlight exposure, as spending time in natural daylight boosts our serotonin levels as well. Exercising outside in the day can therefore give you an even bigger natural chemical boost to improve your mental health.

Thirdly, exercise can be used as an escape mechanism. Having time to escape from your daily stressors at work or at home can be enough to help collect your thoughts, clear your mind and relax as a release from any pressure. By incorporating exercise into your weekly routine, it can help you to maintain a good work-life balance and so help prevent you from burning out. It can also be a chance to have a break from your mobile phone and other technologies that people spend so much of their day using and often can’t escape. It is only until you have this break that you realise the stress relief it can bring, and its positive impact on your mental health.

Problems with sleeping and eating either too little or too much are common symptoms of mental health issues. However due to the energy and expenditure used in physical activity, this can help your body to maintain a healthy sleep pattern and increase your appetite, which can often be neglected by depression. There is no denying the positive mindset and emotional resilience that a good night’s sleep and a well-balanced diet can bring you, which is the fourth reason exercise can lift your mood.

Team Sports

As well as the mental and physical benefits mentioned above, exercise can be a great way to boost your social support by playing team sports. As well as providing the opportunity to make new friends, it can also give you a sense of belonging and achievement being part of a team.

Socialising is vital in your life as it can bring you happiness, self-identity, prevent feelings of loneliness, as well as support to get you through difficult situations. This boost in social confidence is therefore the final reason exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health.

Exercising with someone else, or in a group or class, can also give you the motivation to exercise when your mind is trying to convince you otherwise.


In summary, exercising each week by doing activities such as walking, yoga, badminton, football or any activity that you enjoy can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health.

It can take a little while to see the positive changes to your mindset and body but be patient and improvements should occur over time.


Joshua TMS TechnicianJosh, TMS Technician

Josh is a TMS Technician at the Smart TMS Havant Clinic, serving the South coast of England.

His qualifications and experience include:

  • BSc Psychology degree with first class honours from the University of Winchester
  • Volunteer working with local young people with autistic spectrum conditions
  • Volunteer working mental health worker in India and Malaysia
  • Mental health support worker in Bournemouth

Smart TMS

Smart TMS was established in 2015, dedicated to providing transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment for depression, anxiety, addiction and a range of other mental health conditions. The company has expanded rapidly, opening a series of clinic locations across the UK and also Ireland.

Contact Us

For any queries or for patients wishing to book an appointment at one of our UK clinics, please contact us:

Irish patients may contact Our Dublin Clinic direct on: