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Exercise & Depression

By: Total Fitness Training

Exercise and Depression

Depressive and other mood disorders affect 6.2% of Australians aged 16-85 years in a given year. Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders. Depression is more common in females than males.

Symptoms of depression affect physical, psychological and behavioural well-being.

Some examples are listed below:


  • Lack of energy

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Over-eating or loss of appetite

  • Constipation

  • Weight gain or loss

  • Loss of sexual desire

  • Unexplained headaches, aches and pains


  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Guilt and self-blame

  • Anger

  • Mood swings

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and indecisiveness

  • Worry

  • Thoughts of death and suicide


  • Crying spells

  • Withdrawal from others

  • Neglect of responsibilities

  • Loss of motivation

  • Using drugs and alcohol

Some studies have found that exercise can be a moderately helpful treatment for mild to moderate depression in adults, and may be as helpful in preventing or treating mild to moderate depression as psychological therapy and antidepressants.

The benefits that can be achieved from exercise depend on the amount of exercise that is undertaken. Most studies showing that exercise was helpful used aerobic exercise (such as running or walking), for at least 30 minutes, three to four times a week, for at least eight weeks.

However, people with depression may find it difficult to get started or get motivated, or continue to exercise on a long-term basis.


Doing any sort of physical activity is a great way to help prevent or manage mild depression. There are many views on how exercise helps people with depression.

I have trained a lot of clients with depression and/or anxiety issues and I believe exercise has helped them with the following:

  • Increase in energy levels

  • Helps distract people from daily worries

  • Helps meet new people - Fun runs, group training etc.

  • Helps with sleep

  • Helps with mood

  • Helps with releasing feel-good brain chemicals such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones

  • Helps with reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression

  • Exercise can improve your overall well-being


Added: 04-08-2016