Did you know that a little exercise each day can lift your mood? Kathleen Alleaume shows you all the right moves to keep you fit, healthy – and happy.
Each year, one in five Australians experiences some form of mental illness. And, by 2030, depression is expected to be the main reason we visit our GP.
Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity can help relieve certain forms of depression. The problem, however, is that when you’re feeling blue, often the last thing you want to do is exercise.
Here are simple ‘motivation muscle’ training tips to get you started. And they’re easy to do!
If you haven’t been exercising at all, start with simple daily activities such as shopping, gardening or other household tasks. These can increase your self-confidence as well as motivate you to try more energetic activities. Go for a 10-15 minute walk each morning, and gradually increase this to 30 minutes each day.
Find what you enjoy
Someone who says, ‘I just hate exercise!’ usually means they haven’t yet come across an activity they enjoy. If you begin an exercise program that you don’t enjoy, you will inevitably stop doing it at some point, so it’s important to figure out what types of activities best suit you. Maybe it’s a walk while you’re listening to music, a leisurely swim, a game of golf or a dance class.
Enlist the team
Involve your family. They can help mind the kids or give you encouragement and reminders. Or, think about organising family outings that keep you all active. Try bike rides, games of tag or weekend walks or hikes.
Research shows that when you listen to music, areas of the brain responsible for movement are also stimulated. This means you’re more likely to start moving! Listen to your favourite tunes before and during your workout.
Participate in activities with family members and close friends, and accept social invitations, wherever possible. Keeping connected with others helps increase your levels of wellbeing, confidence and opportunities to participate in activities.
Try these simple mood-lifters
Brisk walking, biking, jogging, swimming and sporting activities – anything that increases your breathing and heart rate. They also improve the fitness of your heart and lungs.
Working out with weights or using your body weight has health benefits beyond bulking up your muscles and strengthening your bones. Studies show that having more lean muscle mass may also reduce depression.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Along with improving flexibility, strength and balance, these involve meditation practices, such as deep breathing and mindfulness, which can help to break up repetitive negative thoughts.
Simple activities, such as gardening, throwing a ball around with your kids or washing your car, can also help. That’s because a healthy dose of sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, one of our ‘happy’ hormones.