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The Benefits of Exercise on Eating Disorders

As we draw nearer to the end of Exercise Right Week 2017, May also hosts the MAYDAYS for Eating Disorders, the Butterfly Foundation’s monthly advocacy campaign, which highlights key concerns relating to eating disorders, and calls for change.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is encouraging all Australians to become more educated on this serious mental health condition, and how exercise in fact can be used as an effective form of treatment.

The Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s leading foundation for eating disorders, reported that currently around 4% of the Australian population is experiencing an eating disorder. This is close to one million people.

Results for the 2016 Exercise Right Week Survey highlighted that mental health disorders were one of the most popular conditions participants were living with, but perhaps not seeking the right professional advice and expert care for.

 “Working with an exercise physiologist who understands the complex nature of eating disorders is essential. Physical activity can be hugely beneficial in terms of mood stabilisation, weight loss or restoration, but should be done in the context of psychological and nutritional counselling,” says Sarah King, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, specialising in eating disorders in private practice and Northside Hospital.

Although psychology treatment and food nutrition therapy are beneficial for eating disorder patients, a professionally-prescribed level of exercise is beneficial for the intervention and prevention of eating disorders – a healthy mind can play a key role in a healthy body.

 “With eating disorders there is often a disconnection to the body and unhelpful beliefs around physical activity that may delay someone’s recovery. Creating a healthy attitude towards movement means dispelling common myths in the media, and prescribing appropriate exercise that moves away from aesthetics. Instead the focus is on harnessing the other benefits of improved mood, bone density, and social inclusion,” says Miss King.

Whilst an eating disorder is a condition of the mind and body, and exercise may be seen in a negative light in regards to weight control, physical movement has been proven to provide a psychological benefit to both the physical and mental well-being of a person who is living with an eating disorder, when prescribed by the right professional.

“It’s essential that those living with an eating disorder consult the right team of professionals for their recovery. This includes speaking with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before undertaking any exercise to have an individual plan tailored just for you and your health,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

To locate your local exercise professional, click here.

To find out more about Exercise Right Week 2017, click here.