Depression is common among Australia’s senior population. In fact, around 10–15 per cent of older people deal with depression, and approximately 10 per cent experience symptoms of anxiety.
There is extensive evidence that shows exercise can treat and even prevent mental illnesses like depression. This is because physical activity boosts feel-good endorphins and mood-lifting serotonin.
The Black Dog Institute explains that everyone can benefit from exercising their mood, with research showing even small amounts of exercise can be both mentally and physically beneficial.
Exercising can reduce stress hormones, improve sleep, increase feelings of control and distract from worry.
Here are six tips to try and exercise your mood.
1. Start at your own level
We all start somewhere and if you are new to exercise, set small goals and build your way up to a bigger goal like 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you already have a set exercise regime, you can use that as a first step to something new. A good one to try is meditation, which can improve relaxation and concentration.
2. Find a time of the day that suits you
You don’t skip brushing your teeth because you’re not in the mood, and you should think about your exercise regime in the same way. Even on a rainy day, you can do yoga or meditation exercise indoors. One study found that even a single session of mindful exercise (like yoga) can improve mood and reduce stress.
3. Choose activities that you enjoy
You do not have to go to the gym and lift weights unless you want to. There are plenty of other exercising options available. Whether you like bush walking, swimming, kite surfing, Pilates or walking the dog, even 10 minutes of physical exercise daily is proven to have a positive impact on both your mental and physical health.
4. Reward yourself
When you reach a milestone of some sort, even if it is an extra 500m on your daily walk, tell someone who will celebrate it with you.
5. Give yourself a break
If you miss one session, one day or one week, do not be too hard on yourself. You can pick up where you left off and refocus on the goals that you have set for yourself.
6. Take your friends along
If you are living with a mental illness, it can be difficult at times to socialise; however, asking a friend to join you in physical activity is a great way to keep motivated. It gives you the chance to share an experience with someone while keeping your plans accountable to one another.