Depression is common in both men and women in Australia with around 1 million adults living with depression yearly. On average 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males will experience depression sometime in their life with more males committing suicide than females because they let depression go untreated.
It is more than just a feeling of low mood. It’s a serious illness, which makes everyday hard to function, having severe impacts both physically and mentally.
Studies show a strong positive link between depression and exercise. Those leading a sedentary life-style are more likely to be depressed while those who are depressed tend to exercise less than those who are not depressed.
Research has shown that exercise may be an effective way to assist in treating some mild and moderate forms of depression. Regular aerobic and strength training can result in a 50% decline in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Serotonin is an important brain chemical that contributes to a range of bodily functions including sleep, libido, appetite and mood. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Exercise enhances the uptake of serotoninwithin the brain, which can lead to a feeling of well-being and improved mood.
Other therapeutic benefits of exercise that can help with depression include:
Increase in self-esteem by feeling better about physical appearance and because the person is taking an active role in their own recovery
Some exercise can be a social experience with people who give encouragement and support
Exercise increasescore body temperature which studies show has an anti-depressive effect
Activity burns up stress chemicals such as adrenaline which in-turn promotes a more relaxed state of mind
Exercise can be a distraction, breaking the cycle of pessimistic thinking and depressive thoughts and feelings
Exercise can help a person sleep better. Some people with depression have disturbed sleep cycles, usually as a result of low serotonin levels
Staying physically active can contribute to a more energetic feeling and less lethargic feeling.
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