Exercising for Improved Mental Health

Shaun Edwards, an Exercise Physiologist at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, and students from the University of New South Wales have been working together to provide tailored exercise programs for patients of the Hospital’s O’Brien Centre Gym.  Established in 2017, with the support of the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation, the Gym provides an opportunity for mental health inpatients to engage in physical activity during their stay and encourages patients to incorporate regular activity in their day to day lives.

Over the course of the year, the services have grown from one exercise physiologist using a meeting room for exercise to three exercise physiologists working within an equipped community gym space.

Along with direct benefits such as improved confidence, weight loss and maintenance of metabolic health, Shaun also guides staff across the Hospital’s Mental Health Service to support clients in monitoring their own physical health, particularly in relation to heart health and diabetes management.

Shaun’s approach is holistic, “Our goal is provide effective multidiscipline treatment and rehabilitation. We continue to connect various services within mental health and to provide the opportunity for students and staff to access exercise physiology services and participate in educational sessions”.

The O’Brien Centre is now about to launch a new research study, in partnership with the UNSW, to measure the impact of offering Exercise Physiology to Mental Health Service patients. The partnership with UNSW has proven to be a huge success to date with students commenting on the practical insight and life-long professional experience they have gained participating in the program.