Please DO NOT DELETE this page.

Blog //
  • Fitness

Exercise and depression

20 March, 2020
Exercise for depression

How does exercise affect your mood?

Research shows that exercise is protective against depression, and even severe depression like major depressive disorder. A 2017 study from the Black Dog Institute found that as little as one hour a week of exercise can prevent depression. They found that people who did no exercise at all had a 44% increased chance of developing depression.  

Regular exercise can also have the following mental health benefits:

  • promotes the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine
  • distracts you from worries and overthinking
  • provides social support and reduces loneliness
  • increases a sense of control and self-esteem
  • improves your sleep and energy levels

It can also help you think clearly as it pumps more blood to your brain.

How much exercise should you be doing?

Even though as little as one hour a week can make a difference, the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults and Older Australians suggest that we need to be getting a weekly minimum of either:

  • 150 to 300 minutes of “moderate intensity” physical activity, or
  • 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity.

If you can’t manage this much exercise to begin with, any increase in physical activity will start to benefit your physical and mental health. This includes both planned and incidental activity.

Does exercise intensity matter?

A 2016 study found that exercising at any intensity was beneficial for your mental health and that there was no difference between exercising at low or high intensity. The same study recommends using exercise as a management tool for depression.

Getting started

If you’re new to exercise or starting an exercise program, it’s important to see your doctor beforehand. It’s also important to remember to be kind to yourself and try not to be too self-critical. If you’re feeling low, the hardest part is getting started. Once you’re in a routine, it’ll be easier to keep going.

Beyond Blue highlight the following tips to help you get moving:

  1. 1. Find your reason – you’re more likely to stick with a new behaviour if it’s linked to something you really value in life. Ask yourself, “why will exercise make my life better in a meaningful way?” It might be to help you overcome depression and get your life back on track, to gain more energy for your kids or to improve your general health for a longer life.

  2. 2. Start small – and we mean really small. Just add five per cent to what you’re currently doing. If you’re stuck on the couch, just walking in your street each day is a great start.

  3. 3. Make it part of your routine – the more decisions you have to make about when to exercise, the closer you’ll come to deciding not to. Timetable your exercise into your weekly schedule so you aren’t relying as much on willpower.

  4. 4. Do something you enjoy – exercise doesn’t have to be serious. If you hate running or going to the gym, you’re unlikely to keep it up. Find an activity you enjoy (or at least don’t dislike) and you’re more likely to keep doing it.

  5. 5. Set goals and monitor progress – it’s very rewarding to track your progress towards a specific goal. It makes every exercise session feel purposeful.
  6. 6. Make a commitment to others – you’re less likely to opt out if you have a friend or team relying on you to be there.

Where to get more support

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you might find some of the follow services helpful.

Get help now online or over the phone

If you or someone close to you needs help now, there are phonelines and websites available.

For immediate help in a crisis:

For general mental health support:

Seeing your GP

Your GP can assess you, provide a treatment plan which may include medication, and refer you to a mental health specialist if necessary. A GP can create a mental health plan for you, which means Medicare subsidises up to 10 sessions with a mental health professional.

More information


All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.


Suggested Articles

  • An image of nutrient-rich vegetarian Mexican bow

    Mexican in a bowl

    If you can’t go out for Mexican, make it at home! This nutrient-rich vegetarian Mexican bowl is a quick and easy dinner.
    • Nutrition
    19 May 2020
  • Private Hospital Benefits at Healthscope Group Hospitals

    Private Hospital Benefits at Healthscope Group Hospitals

    CBHS has agreements with over 500 private hospitals across Australia including the Healthscope Group of Hospitals (Healthscope).
    • Membership
    18 May 2020
  • 2003_COVID19_Blog-08

    Financial assistance to members who hold Extras cover

    Here is what we are doing to support our members from both a health and financial perspective through the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • News
    • Membership
    6 May 2020
  • 2003_COVID19_Blog-08

    CBHS COVID-19 Health and Financial Assistance Program

    Here is what we are doing to support our members from both a health and financial perspective through the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • News
    • Membership
    27 April 2020

What Our Members Think

I joined as a CBHS member in 1978. Through many health events and challenges CBHS has always been there for me and my family. Their exceptional service over this time has always been appreciated.

- Jenny J

What Our Members Think

I've not long joined CBHS from another fund, but so far I've been impressed by the super helpful and friendly staff, the higher claim limits and rebates at a very competitive premium, and how easy it is to lodge manual claims through the app. Thanks CBHS - you've won me over! 😃

- Jessica B

What Our Members Think

What I love about CBHS is their customer service - friendly staff and always ready to help and email you the information you ask about. Keep up the great work!!!

- Linda S

What Our Members Think

I love CBHS as its so so easy to lodge a claim and whenever i need a question answered friendly consultant is one phone call away. The phone back option instead of waiting is brilliant!

- Rachel N

What Our Members Think

I have been with CBHS since I began at CBA 15 years ago...Now I have three beautiful children, one who has a disability. Our top extras cover has been really essential for his early intervention. I do love the ease of claiming online.

- Annette E

What Our Members Think

I am relatively new to CBHS and am loving it already. I worked for a CBA subsidiary a long time ago but was still eligible to join. So much better that the for-profit funds - our premium is only a little more and we pay a lower co-contribution and get great benefits. I am loving the massage rebate for my partner and gym rebate for me!

- David G

What Our Members Think

I'm extremely happy with CBHS! I have been a customer for about six years. I think the price is reasonable. And i would refer you to my family and friends any day. Thank you CBHS!!!

- Karen W

What Our Members Think

Love CBHS as I never have to doubt that they've got my back when I need it. Been through other insurers who have limited options or limits, yet cost the same or more.

- Mark F