Written by Jennifer Smallridge
Each year, one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness. The most common type, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), are anxiety disorders, followed by mood disorders, which includes depression. Common and effective treatment pathways for mental health disorders include counselling and medication. However, there is a strong link between movement and mental health and exercise can be used to assist with alleviating the severity of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Although exercise can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do, the research link between movement and improved mental health is constantly growing.
Serotonin, the best known ‘happy’ chemical, is produced in the brain during exercise.
Exercise to reduce depression and mood disorders.
Longstanding depression is not only unpleasant for the sufferer, but it is also associated with an increased likelihood of having a chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The proven benefits of movement and being active for managing depression include:
improved mood, particularly via the neurotransmitter serotonin, which increases after a single bout of exercise
improved self-concept and self-esteem – completing some exercise can give a great sense of achievement
improved performance at work – people who exercise in the morning are better able to take on challenges during the day
improved socialisation – even if the interactions are small and subtle, such as greeting a neighbour in the street or saying hello to the receptionist at the gym, are positive
helping to maintain a healthy weight and body image, particularly if medication has caused unwanted weight gain.