In a recent interview with ABC Radio exercise physiologist and Warrior Wellness director Luke Dimasi discusses recent research which shows that exercise is as good as drugs in treating depression.
“What we’ve found from both our research and from observations of programs delivered in FIFO environments is that you can reduce depression and anxiety as well as enhance mood states through both aerobic exercise and resistance training such as weights,” said Mr Dimasi.
In FIFO workers, stress is highest leading up to leaving for work, and often throughout a rotation, due to being away from family and friends, according to Dimasi, who has just run a two week program of exercise at Japal Village mine site in the Pilbara. Programs promoting physical activity while on FIFO rotations can have acute positive impacts on mood and coping for workers while on rotation, and longer term exercise adherence helps individuals manage chronic stressors created by their working environment. However stress, anxiety disorders and more serious mental health problems, such as depression, are not isolated to FIFO workers. For instance, almost a third of all people employed in the financial services sector suffer from anxiety conditions.
Mental health costs $11 billion a year in the Australian workplace in the form of absenteeism, presenteeism and compensation claims and because mental health problems pervade every single industry, every business in Australia is affected by this. But for every dollar spent on prevention, a business can expect a return of $2.30 in improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and lower rates of compensation claims.
To be effective programs must cover both exercise and other aspects of wellness, and aim to influence workers to employ the same healthy lifestyle activities in their home time, as well as during their rostered work time. Mr Dimasi has found that while many people are aware of many of the important health and wellness messages, the most effective programs will be strongly focused on turning this awareness into action and engrained lifestyle practices in participants.
“During programs like this we see measurable improvements in physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning and physiological wellbeing,” said Mr Dimasi.
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