TAI Chi is being used as a new way to fight social isolation and keep people active at Bayside Community Care Unit.
The Chinese martial art was introduced to the CCU by Metro South Health exercise physiologist Steven Koh who originally joined Addiction and Mental Health Services as a student.
"I was so inspired by the recovery and rehabilitation model in place. The outcomes that we can achieve working with individuals with severe and enduring mental health conditions inspired me to join the team," he said.
Mr Koh said exercise like Tai Chi can improve cognitive functioning, reduce symptoms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety and psychotic symptoms, and protect against the development of chronic conditions.
"There's strong evidence that Tai Chi complements standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many illnesses.
"Our residents have said that it has helped increase their self-esteem and prevented isolation, reduced depression and negative mood," he said.
Team leader Michelle McKay said she found Tai Chi was a good way to keep people active and build resilience.
"Some residents at the CCU have major depressive disorder and we know that exercise helps people feel good.
"In fact, one of our residents even encourages staff to take part. He said when you start practicing Tai Chi, you become more mindful and enhance positive energy within yourself. It will improve your mental health symptoms and physical health over time," she said.
People with mental illnesses have a reduced life expectancy of between 10 to 20 years. Evidence suggests that this mortality gap has increased in recent decades and is largely due to preventable physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Redlands Kim Richards attended a class this week and said that exercise was one of the best ways to curb stress and boost your mood.
"The CCU provides residential rehabilitation services for people who have experience a severe mental illness.
"Social distancing requirements have increased the risk of isolation and poor health outcomes for people with mental health concerns. This initiative is helping residents come together to unite and recover for Queensland in a healthy and active way," she said.