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Exercising and Wellbeing following a road crash

Like a diamond, there are many facets to wellbeing. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are three important areas, particularly when it comes to coping with trauma.

Exercise is good for us. It helps us maintain a healthy weight, reduces our risk of disease, helps us recover from and manage health conditions, improves our cognitive function and memory, and releases feel-good chemicals which improve our mood.  

Importantly, in the case of trauma (including road trauma), exercise focuses the body, which can help us move through trauma. It also helps build self-esteem, can be a social occasion and can get us outdoors in the fresh air, which has benefits of its own. 

How does exercise help after road trauma?

Regular exercise following experiencing a traumatic event can assist you to maintain a regular routine, while improving your sleep and eating schedule.

You can plan your day around a run, walk, or exercise class. The process of working your muscles and completing a task will create a natural desire for rest, which can help if you are struggling to sleep.

Exercise can also assist in:

  1. Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression

Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These symptoms are commonly experienced by individuals who have experienced trauma, and regular exercise can help manage these symptoms.

  1. Helping to regulate the nervous system

A traumatic experience can lead to dysregulation of the nervous system, which can cause symptoms such as hypervigilance, flashbacks, and panic attacks. Exercise can help regulate the nervous system and reduce these symptoms.

  1. Promoting physical health

The emotional results from road trauma can have negative effects on physical health. Regular exercise can help promote physical health and reduce the risk of negative effects.

  1. Boosting self-esteem and confidence

Experiencing road trauma, whether directly or indirectly, can lead to feelings of low self-worth and self-doubt. Exercise can help boost self-esteem and confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment.

Physical injuries resulting from a road crash may limit your ability to exercise. It is important that exercise should be approached in a safe and gradual manner, and individuals should seek the guidance of a healthcare professional if necessary.

It is also important to prioritize self-care and rest as needed during the recovery process. Remember you have experienced a very stressful event, and allow yourself time and space to adjust.

What do you do when you just don’t feel like exercising? 

Sometimes when we experience trauma, we can struggle to exercise.  

We might not have the energy or may be fearful of our body’s physical response to exercise, such as an increased heart rate and breathing which are associated with anxiety. These reactions may remind us of the feeling of the initial trauma or heighten the body’s arousal response.  

Exercising with a trusted friend or family member, using meditation and yoga, and talking to health professional may help to counteract this. 

About Road Trauma Support WA

Road Trauma Support WA is a state-wide service assisting anyone affected by road trauma, regardless of when the incident occurred or what level of involvement (direct or indirect) the person had. FREE counselling sessions are available. No referral is required. 

We provide: 

We are committed to being respectful of cultural and family values and providing our service in a safe, non-judgmental environment. 

Injury Matters acknowledges and respects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the custodians of the land on which we work, live and build our lives, families, and communities. We pay our respects to the First Nations People of this country, their cultures and Elders past, present and emerging.

Injury Matters strives to be culturally sensitive as we represent the Western Australian community in our imagery. Please be advised that our website or resources may contain images, videos, or voices of people who have since passed away.

If any material causes concern, please contact us on (08) 6166 7688.


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