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Exercise as it relates to Disease/Exercise as a management tool for depression

Exercise as a Management Tool for DepressionEdit

People exercising
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in Australia in the modern age, it is estimated that every year up to one million Australians suffer from depression and almost two million suffer from anxiety related symptoms. Even though depression and anxiety are two different conditions it is not uncommon for them to occur at the same time and those who suffer from depression often suffer from many symptoms of anxiety as well, it is also not uncommon for one to lead to the onset of the other[1]
Although the direct cause of depression is somewhat unknown research suggests that a number of factors are associated with its development. Generally depression does not result from just one event but rather from a combination of events whether they are recent or long ago as well as other personal factors.[2]
Life events
  • Life events such as continuing difficulties like long-term unemployment, unhappy or abusive relationships, long-term isolation or loneliness, prolonged exposure to an over stressful workplace, these are all more likely to lead to depression than recent life factors, however a combination of events like job loss or other major developments can cause or ‘trigger’ depression in people who are already at risk because of past experiences or personal factors which have manifested.[3]
Personal Factors - These may include
  • Family history – Depression can run in families and some people may be at greater risk of developing depression, however this doesn’t mean that they will automatically experience depression as a direct result of parents or close relatives.[4]
  • Personality – Some people are at greater risk of developing depression if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self esteem, are sensitive to personal criticism or are self critical or negative.[5]
  • Serious Medical Illness – Having a serious medical illness can trigger depression in different ways, serious illness can cause depression directly, or can contribute through associated stress and worry with a greater increase if it is a long-term management of the illness.[6]
  • Drug and Alcohol use – Both drugs and alcohol can lead to depression with many people with depression turning to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to help themselves overcome the problem often making it worse. Statistics show that over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol at the same time, at some point in their lives.[7]
How Exercise can Help
Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever, being active can boost your ‘feel-good’ endorphins and distract you from daily worries and issues.[8] As we all know exercise is great for making us feel good and gain a sense of achievement and in terms of depression and trying to find an outlet to help then there is nothing really better. Through physical activity from walking to running, individual and team based sports, competitive and just for fun completing some form of exercise is good for acting as a distraction from any trouble or stress that a person may be having problems with. Exercise is great for the body because it not only releases endorphins which make you feel better but it also improves health and provides many health benefits

U.S. psychologists have found that even just a ten minute walk may be just as good as a 45 minute workout in terms of changing a person’s mood and making them feel better. Other studies have found that physically active people show much lower levels of anxiety and depression then people with a more sedentary lifestyle and those people who have a more active lifestyle are 25% less likely to develop depression and anxiety.[9]
According to some studies, regular exercise can work as well or better then medication for some people in reducing the symptoms of depression and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous session can alleviate symptoms for hours and a regular exercise regime can significantly reduce symptoms over extended periods of time.[10]

Recommended Activity Guide
There are many different exercise programs available and it is up to the individual for find or make one that suits their own time, availability and ability, these can be best achieved with the help of friends and family as well as professional sport trainers.
One example of an exercise recommendation
  • 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week
  • This may include walking, jogging, bike riding, gym or dancing[11]

When completing exercise it is important to be patient as results won’t happen overnight. It is also important to set small goals each session or each week so that a sense of accomplishment is gained, these can be as simple as walking around the block without stopping. It is also beneficial to even walk for 10–15 minutes a day then to wait until the weekend to perform a big exercise bout, remember frequency and consistency is better than bulk.[12]
If motivation is lacking then try to find a group or class of people to exercise with, not only will exercising in groups help motivation it will also provide friendship and mateship which will also help with depression because it will provide a personal outlet as well as a physical one.
It is important to remember that like all forms of therapy the effect will vary between individuals, some people may have a dramatic improvement and reduction in their depression where as others may not. But just because effects are not felt immediately it is important to note that being physically active is going to be very beneficial for health in the long term and people should be encouraged to remain active.[13]

Further Readings
About the Author
  • Name: Brendan Madden
  • Uni id: u3081113
  • Subject:Health, Disease and Exercise (8340)
  • Submitted: 30/09/2014 @ 7:01pm


  1. beyondblue 2014. The facts. (accessed 15/09/2014).
  2. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  3. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  4. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  5. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  6. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  7. Beyondblue 2014. What causes depression. (accessed 20/09/2014).
  8. #Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Exercise and Stress: Get moving to manage stress. (accessed 21/09/2014).
  9. ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (accessed 21/09/2014).
  10. ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (accessed 21/09/2014).
  11. #ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (accessed 21/09/2014).
  12. ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (accessed 21/09/2014).
  13. ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (accessed 21/09/2014).