Walking can lift your day and beat the blues
By Anneli Knight

Thursday 4 November 2004

It might not only improve your day, it could also improve your life. One in four women and one in four men will suffer from depression in their lifetime but medical evidence proves this figure could be dramatically reduced if more people started walking more.

There is already an enthusiastic chorus of walkers who say their exercise lifts their day.

A former NSW chief justice, Sir Laurence Street, a patron of Walk to Work day who walks 50 minutes to his Macquarie Street office, said the walk gave his day "that feel good ambience".

The federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, views his morning jog ritual as a "sanity break" from his busy schedule.

"If I don't get my run in in the start of every day I tend to feel very scratchy," Mr Abbott said.

And there are others who have spoken publicly about the benefits of walking for people suffering from depression.

The actor Garry McDonald, a board member of the national depression initiative, beyondblue, said earlier this year on ABC's Enough Rope: "Every morning, as soon as you get up, put on the walkers and go out for a brisk walk; and about 20 minutes you'll notice a change. It's very, very good."

Nicole Highet, the deputy chief executive of beyondblue, said there was strong medical evidence proving physical activity could not only prevent depression but could alleviate symptoms of mild depression.

"It releases endorphins in the brain during the exercise, which actually have a similar effect as prescription antidepressants," she said.

A daily walk could also reduce social isolation, which can lead to depression, Dr Highet said. "Walking helps with just being in contact with the world. Feeling part of a community or having that social contact," she said.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer, John Horvath, who will be joining Walk to Work Day in Canberra on Friday said: "Individuals should make time for themselves each day to do some exercise."

Do you take a long or unusual walk to work? Email your stories to walk2work@smh.com.au

© This work is copyright and is reproduced under licence from John Fairfax Holdings Limited