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Exercise & Mental Health

There's no hiding from it. Depression has infiltrated our society to such an extent that one in sixteen young Australians suffer from it.
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By Evan Belogiannis at Clarence Street

There's no hiding from it. Depression has infiltrated our society to such an extent that one in sixteen young Australians suffer from it.

There are a few ways of fighting it, whether that be medication, cognitive behaviour therapy or interpersonal therapy, but did you know that there is some robust evidence to suggest that regular exercise can be an effective strategy in the treatment of depression?

Feeling tired and being less motivated in general are the two dominant symptoms of Depression, which makes exercise and depression a catch 22, that's why we advise you to start slowly.

How does exercise help?

Very simply, regular exercise has been known to release attitude enhancing chemicals like endorphins and dopamine which give you a natural high. More benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Better sleeping patterns
  • Healthy distraction from worries

Taking an active role in your recovery increases your sense of control and self-esteem.

Start with this

Always be sure to set short-term, realistic goals. Try to aim for a minimum of 30 minutes' physical activity on most if not all days of the week. You do not have to do 30 minutes all at once if you don't want to, break it up into 5-10 minute segments. We've come up with a few exercises below that don't feel like exercise.

Walk to work

Put your headphones in and play your favourite tune. Walking to work is a great way to get your exercise done without even realising it. If you're too far to walk, get off the train or park your car a suitable distance and make it up on foot.

Take a pet for a walk

Walking your companion can be fulfilling and a great way to take your mind off thing. Dogs especially have a lot of infectious energy to run off. Don't have a dog? Ask a friend or a neighbour if you can take theirs out.

Clean the house

Yes, it might seem a monumental task, but not if you make a game out of it. Play a song and see how much you can get done before it finishes. Cleaning gets you moving and has the bonus of giving you a sense of accomplishment. If you tie the two together, you'll be ok.

Take the stairs

Ditch the rush hour queue and hike. Taking the stairs is a powerful way to get your heart pumping and can burn those few extra calories. You'll probably reach your floor quicker too.

Getting in that little bit of extra daily exercise can have a huge impact on your mood.  You can make a game out of it with some fitness tracking applications and help you achieve small, daily milestones.  Challenge yourself to always do that little bit extra than yesterday and reap the rewards of health and happiness.

If you feel like you need help, you can always get in touch with Lifeline:

  • Call Lifeline's 24hr crisis telephone line on 13 11 14
  • Access online one-on-one Crisis Support Chat

If you feel as though you're ready to tackle depression through a positive lifestyle change, then come and visit us at Vision Personal Training, Clarence Street for a tailored program that suits your needs.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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