Study Proves Why Exercise Is So Damn Important For Your Mental Health

"Even just an hour of exercise a week has been proven to lower depression and anxiety."

Image: @stephclairesmith

If you’re a regular reader of DMARGE you will be all too aware of the number of articles we’ve written relating to exercise and how you can keep your body fighting fit during the global pandemic. You may even have been inspired to take up a new sport or hobby, such as skipping like an Olympic athlete. But in case you hadn’t quite summoned up the motivation to get out the yoga mat or a set of resistance bands, a recent mental health study may just give you the extra push you need.

We reached out to the Black Dog Institute to ask them how we can look after our mental health during the lockdown period. After all, spending days on end cooped up in our own homes is just cause for making us go a little stir-crazy. Aside from giving us daily rituals to practice to keep our minds at ease, their answer is to turn to exercise.

But before you start thinking you need to put yourself through crazy workouts to counteract any negative feelings, Dr Kathleen O’Moore, a clinical psychologist at the Insitute told us “even just an hour of exercise a week has been proven to lower depression and anxiety.”


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In fact, according to a study led by Black Dog Institute, “regular exercise of any intensity can prevent depression, regardless of your age or gender,” Kathleen O’Moore.

“If you’re a regular exerciser, you’re probably familiar with the endorphin rush and the subsequent improved mood you often experience after a workout. That’s because exercise provides a wide range of mental health benefits, from building coping and resilience to distracting from negative thoughts and improving memory and sleep.”

To arrive at their conclusion that exercise equals good mental health, Black Dog Institute took data from the Health Study of Nord-Trøndelag County (HUNT study), which examined some 34,000 Norwegian adults and monitored how much exercise they did in correlation to the levels of depression and anxiety they self-reported over an 11-year period.


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The results found that “even small amounts of exercise were protective against depression”,

“12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants had undertaken even a single hour of exercise a week.”

It doesn’t matter too much what type of exercise you carry out either, just as long as you’re moving. Dr Kathleen adds, “find an exercise that works for you, from one on one PT sessions to YouTube or Instagram workouts, or even using fitness apps.”

“They’re packed with various workouts from HIIT classes to boxing and meditation. Online group classes from your regular gym are great too, as they allow you to feel connected to others.”

So if you were putting off exercise to binge-watch a new show on Netflix, get up off the couch or out of bed, even for just 20 minutes to do a HIIT workout and you will find surviving the lockdown becomes a whole lot easier.

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