With one in five Australians suffering a mental illness at some point in their lives, exercise is one way to help combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Motivation may be hard earlier on, but exercise is proving to be an effective method in improving mood. Ever wonder why after a walk you feel better? That's due to the neurotransmitters being released while exercising. Endorphins, or the 'feel good" hormones are released when you exercise, improving mood Exercise also reduces the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Exercise also is a good distractor, instead of worrying about anything that is happening in your life, you are in the moment focussing on the exercise, whether that be perfecting a yoga move or shooting a basketball.
Research is now suggesting that exercise is just as effective, if not more effective than using medication to alleviate depressive symptoms. If you are on medications, exercise can also counteract the side effects of medications such as controlling body weight, blood pressure and fatigue. Research from the team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that outdoor exercise was associated with increased energy levels, decreased confusion, anger, depression and tension compared to exercising indoors.
What type of exercise is best you may ask? Both aerobic (cardio- such as walking, riding a bike, dancing) and strength training (lifting weights, using resistance bands or body weight) have been shown to be of most benefit in reducing depressive symptoms. It is an individual thing, you'll need to find something that you will enjoy and stick to. This may be walking with friends, doing a group class at a gym or joining a sporting team. The most important thing to remember is will take time to see the benefits of exercise, with most studies suggesting at least 8 weeks of regular exercise can see reductions in depressive symptoms.
If your organisation is interested in the mental health programs we run to promote positive mental health, get in contact with us today for more information.