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[edit] Getting started

[edit] Background

yoga Picture by Jessie McIntosh
yoga Picture by Jessie McIntosh

Physical activity helps our bodies to stay strong, just as mental fitness can help us to attain and continue a condition of good mental health. Today's generation of adolescents in society are one of the fastest growing groups that are not getting an adequate amount of physical activity each day, which can increase their chances of depression.

Yoga is a way to focus on strength, flexibility and breathing! Photo by Jessie McIntosh
Yoga is a way to focus on strength, flexibility and breathing! Photo by Jessie McIntosh

Depression is a mental health that affects not only the victim but also their family and friends. Depression can start at anytime, usually in the early childhood, which can be from a line of genetics, divorcing of parents, being abused, or being involved in a traumatizing situation. Regardless of the case, at early adulthood depression can become increasingly worse. Being depressed can cause unpleasant effects to the body. In some cases, a decreased appetite, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. With depression it can increase substantially your likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.

Did you know? - Depression is the number one causes of non-accidental death in youth - We lose 2 young Canadians each day to suicide because of depression - 173, 000 people will try and take their own lives because they are depressed

Though depression hurts many people around the world, there are treatments to help the population, that is physical education. Physical activity helps our bodies to stay strong, just as mental fitness can help us to attain and continue a condition of good mental health. Today's generation of adolescents in society are one of the fastest growing groups that are not getting an adequate amount of physical activity each day, which can increase their chances of depression.

Staying fit keeps the mind and body alert leading to a healthier life style. Scientific studies are being conducted showing physical activity is the new treatment for depression as there are no side effects like medication. According to Dr. Alan Cohen (2011), only 150 minutes of exercise a week will decrease symptoms of depression, especially with mild depression cases. Exercise could be as simple as walking the dog or running on a treadmill. To receive treatment, the exercise does not have to be extremely difficult, a moderate exercise will receive results as well. The research also shows the benefits received from physical activity will be long lasting. According to Roger W. Harms (2011) and his team of clinical staff, exercise releases “feel good chemicals” for example, endorphins improving mood. In addition, Roger. W Harms (2011) also studied the chemicals released, which improve the bodies immune system, as a result will take away sick feelings a person may feel if depressed.

One misleading thing about exercise is the time spend at a time. To receive results, the exercise does not have to be done all at once. It can be done throughout the day! Even a 15 minute walk a day will give you time to clear your mind and relax the body stated by Dr. Cohen.

[edit] History

According to Blake (2012), physical activity has been used to address the topic of depression. Physical exercise has been proposed as a complementary treatment which may help to improve residual symptoms of depression and prevent relapse.

P. Carek , Laibstain and S. Carek (2011) discovered that several studies have indicated that aerobic exercise may be as effective in reducing generalized anxiety as cognitive behavioral therapy. Research by P.Carek, Laibstan and S.Carek (2011) supports idea that physical activity decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activity has been consistently shown to be associated with improved physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being. P. Carek, Laibstant and S. Carek (2011) also conducted a study in the United States using a sample of adults ages 15-54. The study showed that those who were associated with regular physical activity had a significant decrease in major depression and anxiety disorders. As well, in a study of 19,288 individuals, it was found that regular exercise was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. While regular physical activity appears to be related to mental well-being, physical inactivity appears to be associated with development of psychological disorders. Research by P.Carek,, Laibstain, and S.Carek (2011) supports that exercise improves depressive symptoms when used as an adjacent to medications. Exercise significantly improved symptoms when added to an antidepressant in a group of adolescence patients with depression that had not responded to 6 weeks of antidepressant medication alone.

In various studies, exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression. However, according to Gill (2010) some exercises are more effective than others. Resistance exercise and mixed exercise work better then aerobic exercise alone. Gill (2010) also discovered that high frequency exercise is more effective then low frequency exercise. Exercise that focuses primarily on the mind such as yoga is recommended to reduce the symptoms of depression.

[edit] Target Audience

The target audience for this web page is directed at people aged thirteen to nineteen. This age group was chosen because the disorder typically begins in childhood or early adolescences and it is felt that they are the most affected and influenced by depression. As we, the creators of this wiki page, are in the stage of adolescence and feel as though we are able to relate to such disorder. Depression can be influenced by many different factors such as; academic stress, social anxiety, romantic problems, traumatic events, separating and divorced parents, heredity, low-self esteem and feeling of helplessness, greatly effect those who are in adolescence stage, as compared to infancy or adulthood.

Soccer is a fantastic way to participate in physical activity as well as be apart of a team! Photo by Danielle Luciani
Soccer is a fantastic way to participate in physical activity as well as be apart of a team! Photo by Danielle Luciani

[edit] Research

1. The Heart Foundation proves to be an effective physical activity program in the past that addresses the topic of depression. It's main focus is walking. The Heart Foundation is a fun and social way for people to get active. It is a local free walking group that is directed towards all sorts of people around the world, no matter what age or physical ability. For example, some people who have taken part in the program left comments on the Heart Foundations webpage. This is what some of their walkers are saying; "'I have definitely improved within myself in the last 12 months from physical exercise. I have been suffering from moderate post natal depression and walking has definitely contributed to my recovery. Other physical health services e.g. gyms are too restrictive and do not cater for children with special needs and so are no good for my situation. ‘Just Walk it’ is an excellent program.' (Anonymous). 'Because I suffer from depression, making the effort to go walking as well as spending time after having coffee and talking with others has help me a lot.'(Jenny, QLD) and lastly, 'There are so many positives when joining a walking group. Improvement in general health and having someone to walk with and to chat to while walking and I want to walk so I don’t let the group down and look forward to watching up with everyone the group is so friendly and welcoming.'" (Lorraine from QLD)(Heart Foundation).

For more information:

2. A blog about the effects of exercise and mood help to provide evidence of current research on how effective physical activity programs in the past have addressed the topic of depression. There is a immense amount of confirmation that exercise not only improves mood and enhances well being but also is an effective intervention for depression (Michael Otto and Jasper Smits, 2011). Clinical trials have repeatedly shown an increase in mood benefits from exercise in adults with clinical depression. The below paragraph will display evidence that exercise provides benefits at levels similar to that found for antidepressant medication. Michael Otto and Jasper Smits (2011) explain new evidence for the power of exercise when other treatments for depression have not provided adequate help. Michael and Jasper (2011) explain that a recent study, published in the August, 2011, issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research provides data that exercise can provide benefits when medication alone does not. They also elucidated that researchers in Portugal examined the effects of exercise-in this case programmed episodes of walking for 30-45 minutes five times per week-on depressed adults who failed to respond to two previous trials of antidepressant medication. In the study, Michael and Jasper (2011) display evidence proving that all patients remained on their antidepressant medication, and two-thirds of the sample received the program of regular (walking) exercise. The results were dramatic. Of those patients who received only medication, no average changes in depression mood ratings were seen over the next 12 weeks. In contrast, clear improvement was seen in those who exercised, with 10 of the 19 patients who exercised showing a response or full remission in symptoms during this time. In the case of treatment of depression, Michael and Jasper (2011) explain that these resources prominently include psychotherapy, a range of medication treatments, or, with increasing evidence, regular exercise. Within these choices there is not a clear cure-all option, but, importantly, there are a range of options to be pursued to try to find the right fit for any particular person suffering from depression (Michael Otto and Jasper Smits, 2011).

For more information:

3. Research by Camacho, Roberts, Lazarus, Kaplan and Cohen (1991) proved the idea that an increase in physical activity level can lower ones risk of depression. Camacho et al., (1991) examined the relation between level of physical activity and risk of subsequent depression using three waves of data from the Alameda County Study. Subjects who reported a low activity level were at significantly greater risk for depression at the 1974 follow-up than were those who reported high levels of activity at baseline. Camacho et al. (1991) discovered that adjustments for physical health, socioeconomic status, life events, social supports, and other health habits did not lower the subject’s risks of depression in the follow up in 1983. More so, it was alterations in exercise habits that lowered the risk of depression. Camacho et al. (1991) study provided evidence for the link between activity and depression. Their results proved that those who increased their physical activity were less likely to experience depression.

For more information:

4. Babyak et al. (2000) discovered that each 50-minute increment in exercise per week is associated with a 50% decrease in the odds of being classified as depressed. Babyak et al. (2000) used a study consisting of participants who were suffering through depression. Participants were spilt up into two groups in order to discover the most beneficial way to treat depression. Group one consisted of participants who would exercise to help with their depression and Group 2 consisted of participants who used medication instead. A follow up in 10 months found that participants who were in the exercise group exhibited lower rates of repression (30%) and that participants who used medication for treatment exhibited higher rates of depression (52%). Babyak et al. (2000) study helped prove that exercise is a more beneficial treatment compared to medication to help relieve oneself from depression.

For more information:

Basketball is another example of a team sport and a way to get physical activity! Photo by Paul S. Hendren
Basketball is another example of a team sport and a way to get physical activity! Photo by Paul S. Hendren

5. According to Martinsen (1990) exercise is associated with an ant-depressive effect in patients with mild to moderate forms of depressive disorders. However, an increase in aerobic fitness does not seem to be essential for the anti-depressive effect, because similar results are obtained with nonaerobic forms of exercise. Martinsen (1990) found from his studies that more than half of the patients who continued with regular exercise for 1 year tended to have lower depression scores than those who did not participate in regular exercise. Martinsen (1990) also discovered that patients appreciate physical exercise, and rank exercise to be the most important element in comprehensive treatment programmes. Research by Martisen’s (1990) supports the idea that exercising is becoming the new approach in the treatment of depressive disorders.

For more information:

[edit] Existing Physical Activity Programs


This program focuses on working to build awareness of depression and to reduce the stigma associated with it by partnering with experts to create programs such as marathons that build self-esteem and treat those in need. A program, Team Unbreakable, is the name used for the run programs created by CameronHelps. This program was created to use running as a therapy instrument when dealing with depression or mental health issues. Running events have been created and are promoted to increase the awareness of mental health issues. With the use of physical activity to help cure the issues many face, people can move forward with their important lives and feel “unbreakable”.

For more information on this program: and Anxiety in Teens

The OutRun Anxiety 5k and Wellness Expo is a 5K run designed by a program called Anxiety in Teens. This program was developed to reach out to all those children who suffered with anxiety and did not feel as if they could get any help. A run was created to help promote that being physically active can help with anxiety as well as raise money for the programs and events throughout the year. The money raised also helped promote its online mental health magazine which reaches thousands of teens in need each year.

For more information of this program:


This organization uses physical activity in order to make the lives of Canadians healthier and more prosperous. They encourage teens to get out and be more active by creating many programs and events that are available for them to participate in. Although they do not have a specific program or event that aids in helping teens overcome their depression and/or anxiety, they promote challenges for teens and hold other physical activity events and programs that teens may partake in, thus will in turn serve the same purpose as a specified program, therefore reaching the same common goal.

For more information go to:

The Teen Run Group Therapy Program

This program is designed to treat teens that suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. It involves those who are affected to create a running group and meet twice a week for a short and/or a long run, following a presentation by a guest speaker. This program teaches them to reach their goals by using smaller goals in order to improve their overall mood. It also shows teens the importance of structure and routine and it allows them to develop strategies to develop positive cognitively.

For more information go to:

“Defeat Depression”

A Canadian association that is built around the concept of creating hope and decreasing the amount of people who are affected by depression and other disorders. Their main objectives are to raise awareness of a variety of mental health illnesses, reduce stigmas in order to create a more positive environment that encourages people to get help and fight against their illness. Anyone is allowed to join online for free in order to partake in the events and donations are accepted during each fundraiser that goes towards fighting these disorders. They hold many programs that aid in helping people who suffer with depression. However, People who are affected by depression (First or second hand) or volunteers in a community can create events. Once registered, people have the opportunity in creating their own awareness event and can promote it to whoever they wish.

For more information go to:

[edit] Best Practice Activity Suggestions

According to the Harvard Health Publications reader (2014), having at least 35 minutes a day of physical activity has drastically raised the number of non-depressed symptoms in an individual. They also preform tests that state, exercise has had a longer effect on an individual, then those that takes antidepressants on their road to recovery. With simple activities one can benefit in a healthier future of becoming depress free.

Walking the dog

According to mayo Clinic staff (2011), having a motivation can decrease the thoughts of depression. Doing exercises like walking the dog keeps you motivated. Not only is the dog going to motivate you, but also will keep you on a schedule to take him/her for a walk. Walking has also been proven to take your mind off negative thoughts and focus on the positive ones. Walking is very healthy for ones body and taking your dog for a walk for 30 minutes a day is a simple and healthy exercise to help calm the body.


Cycling is a great activity to preform when feeling depressed. When biking one feels free and is focuses on the intense bike ride. At the University of Sydney, Professor Adrian Bauman is continuing his studies on how cycling helps benefit men and women on reducing their depression levels. Cycling has been proven to help out in all mental health issues. More information can be found at where it explains all of the positive effects cycling can have on a person.


According to sports psychologist Aimee C. Kimball (2010), swimming is proven to decline depression and anxiety levels. When swimming your body lets out certain stress hormones converting the tighter muscles into relaxing muscles. Kimball (2010) states that swimming can help in the rebuilding of dead cells that are lost because of stress in the brain. Swimming is a great aerobic exercise that helps clear the mind, while being in the water and working all muscles. There are always gymnasiums that offer public swimming, which would be a great way to get the 15 minutes of exercise every day. Or if having a swimming pool at home is a great way to start off the day in the morning by swimming a few laps.

Snowshoeing is a great way to hike in the winter! Photo by Mark Jansen
Snowshoeing is a great way to hike in the winter! Photo by Mark Jansen


Hiking is one of many activities that allows you to take a break from work or other stressful activities. In the fresh air and doing cardio activities, much like hiking, the brain releases more endorphins. According to Michael W. Smith (2013), the change of daily scenery, hiking is a mood booster and reduces symptoms of depression. Smith (2013), also describes how being outdoors by itself will reduce symptoms as remaining inside all day in familiar settings will increase symptoms of depression. One of the great things about hiking is the ability to do it in a group or as an individual!


Dorling Kindersley (2009) has done a study showing how gardening can improve depression. Gardening is a way to relieve stress from the mind and body. By standing up and down, carrying supplies or lunging to water plants, you are actually doing a physical activity! Gardening will assist in releasing the endorphins from your brain.A study has been conducted showing 80% of gardeners are happy with their lives compared to 67% of non-gardeners by Kate Bradbury (2013) of the World Gardeners Magazine. Allowing children to garden as a part of the school class time, gets them standing up and moving increasing blood circulation as well as encourages them to participate in more physical activities outside of school confirmed by Ted Boscia (2014). Gardening is a simple way to do a little physical activity in a day, add some colour to your yard as well as enjoy the beauty of the outdoors!

[edit] Future Directions

From a biological standpoint scientists have now shifted their focus and research from neurotransmitters and cell receptors to gene expression and functions of the brain. They are hoping that in the future they will be able to study this information in order to create a new biological basis for a more innovative way to diagnose people who suffer from depression and anxiety. Using this innovative research they will be able to develop a better understanding of the disturbances on the brain related to depression and anxiety. From a treatment point of view doctors are trying to encourage patients to exercise and find ways to increase ones moods instead of taking medication in order to over come their depression.

[edit] External Links

The links below provide further information on Anxiety and Depression:

American Family Physician

American Journal of Public Health

Anxiety and Depression Association of America


University of Minnesota

[edit] Changemakers Initiative

Our groups idea on how to make a healthier Canada through the Changemakers initiative can be found below.

Here is the link to our groups Play Exchange Competition entry:

[edit] Notes and References

Barber, H. (2014). Preventing depression through physical activity. Bicycle Network. Retrieved from

Bhatia, S.K., and Bhatia, S.C. (2007). Childhood and adolescent depression. American Family Physician, 75(1), 73-80. Retrieved from

Borchard, T. (2010). How swimming reduces depression. PsychCentral. Retrieved from

Boscia, T. (2014). School garden grow kids’ physical activity levels. Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved from

Camacho, T., Roberts, R., Lazarus, N., Kaplan, G., & Cohen, R. (1991). Physical activity and depression: evidence from the Alameda county study. American Journal of Epidemiology. Retrieved from

Carek, P.J., Laibstain, S.E., and Carek, S.M. (2011). Exercise for the treatment of depression and anxiety. International Journal Psychiatry in Medicine, volume 4(1), 17-21.

Cycling- health benefits. (2011). Better Health Channel. Retrieved from

Exercise for depression. (2011). NHS Choices. Retrieved from

Exercise for stress and anxiety. (2014). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from

Feedback & testimonials. (n.d.). Heart Foundation. Retrieved from

Firestone, L. (2011). Eight ways to actively fight depression. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Francis, M. (2009). Get growing and get happy. HGTV Gardens. Retrieved from

Gill, A., Womack, R., Safranek, S. (2010). Clinical inquiries: does exercise alleviate symptoms of depression? National Centre for Biotechnology Information, 59(9), 530.

Harris, D. (2006). Team unbreakable. CameronHelps. Retrieved from and

Keller, M. (2003). Past, present, and future directions for defining optimal treatment outcome in depression. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Retrieved from

Lawson, K., and Geogriou, A. (2014). Anxiety and depression. University of Minnesota. Retireved from

Martinsen, E. (1990). Benefits of exercise for the treatment of depression. Sports Medicine, 9(6), 380-389. Retrieved from:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011). Depression and anxiety: exercise eases symptoms. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011). Diseases and conditions. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

McGann, D. (2014). Child & family clinic run group therapy program. Minding Our Bodies. Retrieved from

Meghan, W. (2013). 10 Things that may cause teenage depression. Mindyourmind. Retrieved from

Michael B., James A. B., Steve H., Parinda K., Murali D., Kathleen M., W. Edward C., Teri T. B., and K. Ranga K. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic Medicine 62:633–638. Retrieved from

Miller, M. (2014). Exercise and depression. Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from Mitchell, D. (2013). Our vision. ParticipACTION. Retrieved from

Otto, M., Smits, J. (2011). Outwalking depression: consider exercise when the antidepressants have not helped. Exercise and mood: less stress, less anxiety, less depression. Retrieved from:

Patton, G.C., Hibbert, M., Rosier, M.J., Carlin, J.B., Caust, J., and Bowes, G. (1996). Is Smoking associated with Depression and Anxiety in teenagers? American Journal of Public Health, 86 (2), 225-230. Retrieved from

Tibebu, S. (2013). OutRun anxiety race and wellness expo. Anxiety In Teens. Retrieved from

What is depression? (2007). Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from

Williams, H. (2014). Defeat depression campaign. Defeat Depression. Retrieved from

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