Mental Health Week

Each year, 1 in 5 Australian's will experience mental illness, with the greatest prevalence occurring in 18-24 yr olds. Globally, around 400 million people of all ages suffer from depression, with women seemingly more susceptible than men. As you can see, if you are currently suffering from some sort of mental health concerns, you are well and truly not alone!

World Mental Health Day (Oct 10th) has been created to help promote social and emotional wellbeing to communities around the globe, encouraging people to maximise their health potential and enhance the coping capacity of anyone who is affected by these complications. 

But what role can exercise play in turning this around?

It's an area which is still being heavily researched today, but so far, the major consensus of exercise improving the symptoms of some mental illness is certainly positive. In fact, physical activity has shown to alter endorphin and monoamine levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), which can all potentially lead to an improvement in mood (Duclos 2003).

Exercise has also shown to stimulate the growth of new nerve cells and release proteins known to improve an individuals health (Cotman 2002, Ernst 2005), with the following prescriptions highlighted as the most useful for treatment of depression symptoms (Nice 2007):

-3 x per week

-45-60min per session

-10-12 week period (This was only the period of testing. Obviously, exercise needs to be continued!)

Now for those of you who have already seen this 'prescription' as a way to simply become fitter it won't seem like anything ground breaking! However, the idea that exercise CAN help in treating depressive symptoms (Rimer, et al 2012) is certainly a positive sign and one which we feel needs to be highlighted so that communities can begin to support each other through exercise.

The toughest part will now be actually GETTING to training! So whilst I don't have any 'set-in-stone' guidelines to follow, I do have some suggestions which could potentially help!

-Find a training partner. Someone who will support you and that you feel accountable towards.

-Don't stress about it. All you need to do is to try and reach the minimum exercise prescriptions detailed above. If you aim for more and don't achieve that, it simply adds to the frustration and will not keep you motivated.

-Do the simple things consistently; Sleep well, relax and find fun activities which suit your mindset.

-Look to change your nutrition first. Most of the time, exercise and nutrition work cyclically. That is, if you start to eat healthily, more often than not your exercise routine starts to become consistent as well. You might find that creating a healthier eating plan is an easier way to get a positive cycle going. 

Mental Illness affects a great deal of people, but the worst thing you can do is to keep it to yourself. Find a professional or someone who you trust and talk it over, it's not worth the pain of keeping it all inside...leave pain for the gym!

Reward For Effort.

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