Benefits of Exercise when Fighting Depression

Depression. It’s more than just a short-lived low mood or feeling sad.  Depression is a real life changing condition that has very serious negative effects on our mental and physical health.  With some of the symptoms of depression being fatigue, withdrawing from society and a lack of motivation, so its easy to understand that regular exercise may be the last thing on your mind when suffering from depression.

It is an alarming statistic that 4 million people in Australia are currently living with depression or anxiety. That’s just over 17% of our population!  With that said, it is even more alarming to think that something as little as a 30 minute walk can help you handle the onset symptoms of depression and even be used as a preventative measure.

So lets dive deeper into this one!

Those Exercise Induced Happy Chemicals

Exercise helps to increase the very important neurotransmitter, serotonin.  Serotonin is involved with regulating mood, libido, appetite and other important functions around the brain.  Exercise will also helps to increase the levels of endorphins in the brain.  Endorphins have a mood lifting property, and anyone who exercises on a regular basis will know exactly what that rush feels like after a good training session!

Improving Your Energy Levels

Depression can contribute to low energy levels and lack of motivation, which will result in a decline in overall fitness and result in weight gain.  Exercising a few times a week will make you feel more energetic, aid in digestion as well as promote more regulated sleep patterns.

Prevention Plan

Here are my top 4 tips to help you include exercise in your treatment or prevention plan:

  1. Take that first step – This is commonly the most daunting task, whether it’s joining the gym, team or group class, taking that first step will open so many doors, build confidence and lead you in the right direction to empowerment.
  2. Start small – Keep it simple.  Find little activities to help slowly increase your physical activity level (e.g. after dinner take the dog for a walk in the fresh air)
  3. Find a buddy or team – People that experience depression can be withdrawn and feel lonely, so developing a community aspect to exercise can help build a social connection and provide an outlet to help you communicate with others.
  4. Plan – Organise times with your training buddy or team. This will help create structure to your treatment/prevention plan and make sure it’s not being neglected.

Overall Health

As well as aiding depression, regular exercise can assist with a number or other health issues and diseases such as; heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, cancer and can even have a positive effect on decision-making!

Do What Makes YOU Happy

A recent international study completed with UNSW and the NCIM Health Research Institute took data from 49 countries around the world and found that people who are sufficiently physically active were at 15% reduced risk of developing depression.  You are probably wondering what classifies as ‘sufficiently’ physically active?  The exact amount of exercise needed to help treat or prevent depression is still unknown, but the best form of exercise is what you are able to maintain for the long term.  Do what makes you HAPPY!!  Do not set yourself up for failure and run 5km every day when you absolutely hate running!  Find a happy medium.  The best type of exercise is what you enjoy doing, is fun and gets the heart racing!

Let Us Help You!

Even a small amount of exercise on a regular basis can have remarkable benefits for someone battling depression.  At Trained Physio & Fitness we focus on maintaining a small and tight knit community of members and trainers, so you will never feel anxious or uncomfortable walking into our facility.  Remember, our goal is always to help you move and feel the best you can! Contact Our Team Today and find out how we can assist you in living YOUR BEST LIFE!!!

Written by: Jerome Felix

Sports Scientist & Personal Trainer at Trained Physio & Fitness