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Great question this week about Olympic motivation, and how to start a physical activity program after a long period of inactivity.
Thank you to the Her Canberra community for being so engaging and asking the tough questions. Addressing your concerns is the first step in finding answers.
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I’ve been inactive and had depression on and off for four years. The Olympics has motivated me to become more active. I don’t know where to start as I’ve had hip and back pain in the past.
I don’t have any injuries right now. I want to start running; however, I get anxious in gyms and on treadmills and working out in front of people.
Do you have a home circuit you could share to compliment my return to running?
The information provided by Ask an Exercise Physiologist is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.
Hello there Sasha,
The Olympics sure are inspiring. Let me get the formalities out of the way, so you don’t get too carried away with your new lifestyle change 😉
Exercise can help to both prevent and manage depression symptoms. Research doesn’t favour one form of exercise over another for managing depressive symptoms.
However, the scientific evidence does suggest that there is a “dose-response” relationship between exercise and depressive symptoms. Meaning, those who achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines (table below) gain the greatest benefits. So, you’re on the right track!
Here are the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for your age:
|Physical Activity||Be active on most (preferably all) days, to weekly total of:
2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of both.
|Strength||At least 2 days a week.|
|Sedentary time||Minimise and break up long periods of sitting.|
The above table is the perfect starting point. I understand you love running however, I’d recommend a walking program to start loading gradually (after a long period of inactivity) without getting injured.
After a month of your regular walking program, then start with a gradual return to running—jog-walk at first.
Have you thought about having a friend join you? In my experience, having a buddy to keep you accountable really helps (if you want to adhere long term). Also, having an allied health practitioner to gradually increase your running load and look after your technique and biomechanics is essential.
Avoiding injury is key. Furthermore, they will understand the complexities of exercising with depression and will be able to prescribe a program that is specific to your individual needs.
As requested, here’s an at-home strength program to get you started (you can print the program here):
- Lateral hip rotation
- Single leg Squat
- Single leg bridge
- Controlled abdominal crunch in table-top position
I’ll have a two min demonstration IGTV clip for you dropping into Instagram later this week.
Good luck, Sasha. You’ve got this.
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The information provided by Ask an Exercise Physiologist is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Her Canberra advises our community to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if they’re seeking more specific medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.