What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness characterized by:
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Less interest in pleasurable activities
- Restlessness and fatigue
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Significant change in weight
How does exercise help?
Exercise is an effective adjunct therapy for depression. It should be performed alongside medical and psychological intervention to maximize their effect. Exercise helps depression by:
- Improving sleep
- Promoting body awareness
- Boosting self esteem
- Providing structure and discipline
- Providing a healthy distraction
- Alleviating negative effects of medications
- Protecting against co-morbidities
What type of exercise is best?
When it comes to mental health, any exercise is better than none. It is important that you choose an exercise that you enjoy and are likely to continue with.
Team sports are a great way to socialise while exercising. They provide a sense of inclusiveness and mate ship while. The organized nature of team sports also provides structure and discipline to your life in a fun and enjoyable way.
Lifting weights does more than build muscle mass. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that resistance workouts can be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. It is important before starting a resistance exercise program that you seek medical clearance from your doctor. Weight training in a new gym can be daunting at first, but with the right trainer and a positive attitude, you will be reaping the benefits in no time.
Research has long supported aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming and cycling as an adjunct treatment for depression. These aerobic exercises are powerful mood boosters. You don’t have to run for 30 minutes straight reap the benefits. Instead, try moving continuously for 10 minutes, a few times a day. It is important that you obtain medical clearance before starting an aerobic training program.
It is easy to include exercise in your day to day life without making any major changes to your routine. For example:
- Take the stairs
- Walk or ride to the shops
- Get off the bus a stop early
- Start your day with a walk around the block
- Help out at your children’s sports training
- Stand at your desk rather than sitting
How much exercise should I be doing?
The current physical activity guidelines recommend all Australian be active on most, preferably all days, every week. Your weekly exercise total should be either
- 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise
- 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise
As well as 2 days each week of muscle strengthening exercises.