Physical activity and depression



Physical Activity and Depression


Author: Jake Marshall

Date: 2/03/19


In Australia, roughly 3 million people are currently living with depression or anxiety at any given moment. Depression is A disease that can cause individuals to feel down, overwhelmed, guilty, irritable, frustrated, lacking in confidence, unhappy, indecisive, disappointed, miserable, and sad. Physically, it can make people tired, run down, cause physical pain and discomfort, affect sleep, weight and overall health. It’s a disease that can affect the sufferer’s quality of life leading to diminished professional work and social life.


It is then no wonder why with such prevalence and severity, these diseases have a massive impact on the economy, community and families.

And its on the rise.

In 2017 over 3,000 people in Aus took their own life which was almost a 10% increase on 2016. Mostly young men but mental health problems never discriminate. They affect almost everyone and in one way or another are almost guaranteed to impact your life.

So, what can we do to address such an important issue? As you might know, organizations such as beyond blue, lifeline, the black dog institute, soldier on, and many more are doing magnificent work in try to prevent mental illness from having such a devastating impact and improving the quality of life of its victims.

Roughly 3 million people are currently living with depression or anxiety at any given moment

Doctors and other medical professionals also do incredible work where they can provide counselling, medications and therapies to help all they can as well.

But there is one incredible prevention method AND medication that I feel is overlooked. Since you’re reading a blog written by an exercise and sports sciences student and personal trainer on a personal training companies’ website you may have already guessed what that intervention may be. That’s right; good old-fashioned physical activity.

Exercise as a treatment for depression is a cognitive-behavioural therapy which can be extremely effective. Even as effective as any current prescribed medications available and even more so when used in conjunction.

As a treatment it seems to work better for some than others, i.e. Those who were previously sedentary and worked on achieving frequent bouts of physical activity to eventually transition their sedentary habits into active ones.

A meta-analysis conducted by Schuch et al. (2016) found that the intervention of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. light, continuous jogging or bike riding) supervised by an exercise professional has a large anti depression like effect on those even suffering from major depressive disorder.


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Though, there are some major obstacles to this treatment. If someone is suffering from depression motivating them to get up and partake in continuous, frequent physical activity is going to be a challenge. It’s hard to achieve that level of behaviour change in an individual without any mental illness let alone someone who suffers from an illness that specifically may make them want to do the exact opposite. Hence why the guidance of a professional is ideal. Asking your doctor about exercise to aid in treating a mental health issue is the first step.

Physical activity guidelines in Australia are 2 ½ hours to 5 hours of accumulated moderate physical activity per week or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of accumulated vigorous physical activity per week. As well as minimum 2 day of resistance training. And remember that some physical activity is always better than none.

If you have any concerns regarding mental health or whether exercise may be the right treatment for you, consult your GP and they will be able to direct you from there.



Schuch, F.B., Vancampfort, D., Richards, J., Rosenbaum, S., Ward, P.B. and Stubbs, B., 2016. Exercise as a treatment for depression: a meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias. Journal of psychiatric research77, pp.42-51.


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Whats your biggest stressor?

Whats your biggest stressor?


The nervous system, Recovery and Strength.


Author: Jake Marshall

Date: 1/7/18




Have you noticed how all the strongest people you know are chill as hell when not on the platform? This chilled out attitude is a massive advantage when it comes to building strength, mass and an overall good as the quality of life.

It all comes down to our nervous system. Without getting too far into it, we basically have two types of autonomic nervous systems: The Sympathetic division and the Parasympathetic division.

We will start with the phrase “Autonomic nervous system”. This is the nervous system that is pretty much out of your control; its auto. It plays an extremely important part of maintaining adequate function of your bodies internal environment. This is how your cardiac muscle in your heart and smooth muscle in your digestive system, respiratory system, blood vessels, etc.

Now, why do I think this is important enough to write about on this blog? Because the autonomic nervous system is linked to your conscious state; particularly your emotions.

Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo by  Jason Rosewell  on  Unsplash

The best example of this is when you find yourself angry, stressed, or scared and what happens? Your heart rate increases rapidly, you sweat, you may feel queasy. This is your ‘fight or flight’ response to stress and congratulations! You’re using your Sympathetic division. What’s happening when this division is activated is so extremely fascinating and complex, but ill try and summarise it as best I can. Basically, your brain experiences a stressor (threat) and will increase heart rate while diverting all appropriate resources (blood) to your muscles and lungs so you can leg it or kill it (Fight or flight). This is what is happening when you exercise. Your heart is pumping to get blood into your muscles, so you can lift or swim or jump or dance or whatever. However, while your body is doing this, it takes all the energy and focus away from systems such as the digestive system that obviously plays a vital role in your internal environment so that you can be happy and healthy.

The Parasympathetic division is active when you are at rest. It slows your heart rate down and enables your body to heal and digest. What some people may be surprised to learn is that this is actually the most important part of any kind of physical training. The rest allows for recovery and your muscles will only grow and adapt during their recovery phase.


Some Apps that help us stay on track:

 - Headspace Android / iPhone

- Stop, Breathe & Think - Android / iPhone

or as simple as making a list.

We can help you with this if you like, Just click the link below and book-in a time.

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These two divisions worked a lot better together when human evolution was at a point where we were only in flight or flight while punching on with a triceratops (I’m no paleontologist but I assume that’s how it went). So, you can imagine now days when we are facing so much stress by just sitting in traffic or in front of a computer that this would have a serious impact on both our digestive health and recovery. You can work out harder than anyone but if you’re always exposing your body to that stress and never giving it the time to relax and recover then how can you expect to see results. It's not just muscle mass that is affected here but if your body is not able to properly metabolize the nutrients from your food then how can all your systems function as efficiently as they should. As both a student, a father, and someone who has a constant need to pick up and try and master everything he sees; I defiantly find myself struggling with this. “I have three assignments due, but we have rugby finals on this weekend, but I need to put 10kg on my bench, but I have to spend more time with my family, oooh my guitar! I have to get better at that, I need to find my dream job now! Etc., etc.” ... This is me and you can see how I sometimes find myself plateauing in regard to my lifts and energy in general. You no doubt have your own stressors that you face every day as well so the main question here is how do we find ways to avoid stress, so our bodies can recover and we can get on track getting results in training? I hate to say it, but there is no one answer for everyone. Some stresses may be avoidable, some unavoidable, some not stressors at all but you may suffer from anxiety and find it near impossible to ever properly relax. Meditation and some other calm, relaxing practices show a lot of promise and may be a great start but its really only you who can take a step back and assess how to destress your life.


My advice that has worked for me: Get rid of some things, anything that really drains you that can go, get it out of your life. I might be clutter in your house, it might be a toxic relationship, it might be a part of yourself that should have been left in high school. No matter what stressors you have, it is important to regulate them and give your entire life a chance to recover.



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Barriers In Training

What are your barriers?

What are your barriers?

Identify and overcome your obstacles

Max Effort Fitness


Author: Jake Marshall

Online trainer, Consultant and Researcher

Date: 1/6/2018




Why is it hard to reach your goals? Why can you consistently go for that run every day? And why can’t you get to the gym 3 times a week like you promised yourself you would on New Year’s Eve?


In this blog I’m going to discuss barriers and correlates of physical activity and hopefully get you to identify these in your own life so you can overcome them and spend 2018 and the rest of your life kicking butt. In shot these are any factors that enable or inhibit your from doing ANYTHING. Cold outside? Environmental barrier, too self-conscious to go to a gym? Individual barrier.

There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
— Ronald Reagan
Photo by  Victor Freitas  on  Unsplash

There are different types of barriers and I mainly want to focus on perceived barriers here. Now, no one ever wants to hear that their barrier is just a perception. If I went to a trainer or coach and told them I couldn’t complete the training I was given, and they told me that I was just perceiving that I couldn’t and was actually just making excuses, I’d probably tell them where to go. Though, in short that’s exactly what perceived barriers are, they’re just excuses… BUT that does not make them any less valid. It is your perception and if you perceive that a barrier exists, and you can’t do something because of it, then that is just as valid as any other reason. Trust me, the number one barrier that any Exercise physiologist, personal trainer, physio etc hears is “I DON’T HAVE TIME” it’s the bane of every health professional’s existence.

Photo by  chuttersnap  on  Unsplash

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash


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A review study done in 2002[1] outlined the biggest correlates to physical activity, looking at a variety of types of factors such as environmental, biological, individual and so on. Rather than writing down the entire results page ill note here what was found to be the largest negative and positive correlates to physical activity.

The main barriers, that inhibited people from exercising were:

-          Perceived effort

-          Too hot/cold

-          Mood

-          Perceived not in good enough health

-          Lack of time/ busy (Perceived or not)

-          Lack of enjoyment

-          Lack of confidence

-          No one to exercise with

-          Too expensive

-          Don’t have access to facilities.

-          A lack of social support

All these barriers are valid, even it is just perceived, it’s still a factor stopping you from achieving your goals.


The key is to identify the barriers that stop you from being active and then working out ways to overcome or avoid them. For example, if having no access to child care is a barrier, you might be able to involve them in activities. My partner and I often take our son hiking, it’s a great way to have family time and he absolutely loves it. If you feel as though you’re not in good enough health to do physical activity just start small with what you can. The best exercise is the one you do. Listen to some music/audiobook/podcast while you go for a walk and aim for 30 minutes every morning. This will help turn physical activity into a regular behaviour and in a couple months you won’t be able to imagine your morning routine without your walk, you’ll feel a hell of a lot healthier and you will probably even be ready to step that walk up to a light jog. Suddenly you go for a 30-minute light jog every day and you have successfully achieved a healthy behaviour change. What’s good to know here is that that simple 30 minute walk every day is a great way to overcome a lot of barriers, even our old friend “No time” because you can afford to set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier in the morning and get it done before you have breakfast while you still have control over your busy day.

Identifying what stands in your way of physical activity is key to addressing it and finally overcoming it to achieve your goal. That’s why if you are having trouble with strategies for your barriers here at Max effort we are more than happy for anyone reading this to contact us and we will try to identify some strategies that will work for your situation and get you to be a more active and healthier person. For now, take a few minutes and write down all your barriers, any reason that you can’t completely destroy your goals and you may be surprised with how many of them you can easily overcome.


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