Exercise as it relates to Disease/Resistance Exercise and its effects on Depression

Meditative jogging also helps to lower the activities of brain Stressors thereby improving mood.


Depression is a condition that affects one in five Australians between 16- 85.[1] There are varying degrees of depression ranging from very mild to clinically depressed individuals that cannot even manage to get out of bed and many even have suicidal thoughts. Generally depression does not result from a single event, and whilst the exact cause is not known, a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors are usually associated with its development.[2] There are many treatment options available for individuals with depression with exercise being a commonly used form or treatment that has shown to be very effective.[3]

Signs and Symptoms of DepressionEdit

  • Lowered self Esteem (self-worth) [4][5]
  • Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia or broken sleep
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Lowered energy levels
  • Reduced capacity to experience pleasure
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decreased motivation
  • Poor concentration

Types of TreatmentEdit

There are numerous treatments for individuals affected by depression, however the main forms of treatment are:

• Psychological [6]

  • Counselling
  • Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Mindfulness therapy

• Medication [7]

  • Anti- depressants

• Exercise [8]

• Diet

• Family/Friend support

How Exercise affects the brainEdit

The mechanisms responsible for exercise-related improvements in depression are not all known, studies have hypothesized that it is most likely to be a complex interaction of psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying, mediating and/or moderating these effects.[9]

  • Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins within approximately 30 minutes from the start of activity which assists in mood enhancement [10]
  • Exercise activates molecular and cellular cascades that support and maintain brain plasticity
  • Promotes brain vascularization, neurogenesis (or the creation of new neurons), functional changes in neuronal structure and neuronal resistance to injury.

What is Resistance Exercise/TrainingEdit

Resistance Training is exercise that requires the body's musculature to work against or move an opposing weight or force. Resistance or strength training includes free weights, machines, resistance bands or body weight exercises.[11] Generally when commencing resistance exercise it is categorised as a moderate intensity type of exercise, which is often the type of exercise recommended by health experts for those suffering depression, however it can also be a vigorous intensity type exercise and included as part of high intensity circuit type training.

Effect of Resistance Exercise on DepressionEdit

Data from observational studies consistently demonstrate that physical activity is associated with reduced symptoms of depression. Research indicates that both aerobic and resistance exercise can have positive effect on individuals suffering from depression and whilst the general consensus among health professionals is that as long as an individual is participating in some form of moderate to vigorous exercise there is evidence of positive effects from resistance training on individuals affected by depression in the form of:[12]

  • Reduces sensitivity to stress[13]
  • Improved self esteem
  • Improved strength
  • Anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects
  • Increases endogenous opioid activity in the peripheral and central nervous system

Exercise RecommendationsEdit

Exercise recommendations would be dependent on the individuals medical history and if they have any other contraindications to exercise, however for an a individual with no other known health issues,the Australian Department of Health recommends that adults aged between 18 - 64 follow the following guidelines in relation to exercise.[14]

Exercise type Moderate Vigorous
Duration (per week) 150mins (2.5hrs) 75mins (1.25hrs)

The exercise type or intensity refers to how hard your body is working during physical activity.

Moderate exercise is defined as physical activity that burns between 3 - 6 METs (Metabolic equivalents) and Vigorous exercise is defined as physical activity that burns more than 6 METs.[15] A MET or Metabolic Equivalent is the unit used to measure how much energy the body uses during a particular activity.[16]

Physical activity Australia also recommends that individuals participate in strengthening/resistance activities on at least 2 days each week [17]

More Information/SupportEdit

Beyond Blue - www.beyondblue.com.au

Lifeline Australia - Ph: 13 11 14

Blackdog Institute - www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Department of Health - www.health.gov.au


  1. Facts and Figures about mental health and mood disorders, Black Dog Institue pdf, 2012, www.blackdogintitute.org.au (accessed 26 September 2014
  2. What causes Depression, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/what-causes-depression (accessed 21 September 2014)
  3. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed, Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D., Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2004 6 (3) 104-11
  4. Depression Explained , http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/depression/depressionexplained/index.cfm (accessed 21 September 2014)
  5. Signs and Symptoms, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/signs-and-symptoms (accessed 21 September 2014)
  6. Psychological treatments for depression, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression/psychological-treatments-for-depression, (accessed 29 September 2014)
  7. Medical treatment for Depression, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression/medical-treatments-for-depression (accessed 29 September 2014)
  8. Other Sources of Support, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/treatment-options/other-sources-of-support, (accessed 29 September 2014)
  9. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders, Andreas Stro¨hle, BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY - REVIEW ARTICLE, , J Neural Transm (2009) pg 777 - 784
  10. The Effects of Exercise on the Brain, MK McGovern, http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web2/mmcgovern.html (accessed 21 September 2014)
  11. Designing Resistance Training Programs, third edition, Fleck & Kraemer, Human Kinetics Books,Champaign, IL 2004
  12. Physical activity dose-response effects on outcomes of depression and anxiety, ANDREA L. DUNN, MADHUKAR H. TRIVEDI, and HEATHER A. O’NEAL, The Cooper Institute, Dallas, TX; and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE, 2001 by the American College of Sports Medicine
  13. EFFECTS OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE ON ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, AND SENSITIVITY TO STRESS: A UNIFYING THEORY; Peter Salmon; University of Liverpool; Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 33–61, 2001
  14. Physical Activity Guidelines, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F01F92328EDADA5BCA257BF0001E720D/$File/brochure%20PA%20Guidelines_A5_18-64yrs.PDF, (accessed 17 September 2014)
  15. Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity, hasp.harvard.edu (accessed 26 September 2014)
  16. Exercise Physiology,Theory and application to fitness and performance, eighth edition, Powers & Howley,McGraw-Hill publishers NY 2012,(pg 22)
  17. Physical Activity Australia, http://www.physicalactivityaustralia.org.au/index.php/resources/physical-activity-guidelines/ (accessed 17 September 2014)