The Most Underused Medication for Mental Health | The effects of exercise on mental illness

Today I want to talk about the most underused medication for mental health struggles: Exercise.

Now, please listen clearly I am not saying to stop seeing your doctors, psychologists psychiatrists, and other specialists who are helping you on this journey. In the blog Everyday Health they say:

“Exercise won’t cure anxiety or depression, but the physical and psychological benefits can improve the symptoms,” explains Sally R. Connolly, LCSW, a therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Kentucky. “Research shows that at least 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week can significantly make a difference.” Some studies have suggested that regular exercise can help alleviate anxiety as much as anxiety medications, and the anxiety-relieving effects of exercise may last longer than those of drugs.”

Love to hear your thoughts on the most underused medication for mental health being exercise.

Added Aug 23, 2021

The largest chapter in my book Parenting: Navigating Everything is on this topic of mental health. Check it out!

Click here for a link to a LIVE presentation I did called Hope for the Walking Wounded. It is my talk on mental health.

Check out this video as well.

most underused medication for mental health

About The Author

Brett Ullman

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders, and parents on topics including parenting, mental health, sexuality, pornography, men, dating and media. Brett's seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.


  1. Jim MacMillan

    Hi Brett, thanks for the great post. I totally agree that exercise is one of the best ways to help alleviate the effects of mental health struggles. In my case I have found that swimming 3-5 times a week, biking to work and playing soccer with the teams I coach have been great in helping me handle the ups and downs of depression and mood swings. While I also manage these through medication, I find that when I exercise I usually can think more clearly and feel great (through the release of endorphins I suppose). You hit the nail on the head in that it doesn’t have to be complicated, I think the key is to find something that you can build into your daily routine if possible (biking is that thing for me). Start small and see where it goes (like the 1 month challenge!).

  2. K

    You mention walking has been shown to regulate hormones. Does just walking do this, or any form of regular exercise? And do you know if there needs to be a set amount of time/distance put into walking (i.e. hormones will be helped after 20 min, 40 min, some number of minutes or distance)?

    • Brett Ullman

      from what I read walking puts less stress on your system which helps in balancing hormones. In the stuff I was reading it says walking is better than other exercises. As for time, each article was different. I try and walk 1 hour a day.


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