An hour a week can keep depression at bay

Just an hour of exercise a week can help ward off depression, a landmark study led by Australia’s Black Dog Institute has found.

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The international study has shown for the first time that even minor lifestyle changes can result in significant mental health benefits.

Researchers monitored the exercise habits and symptoms of both depression and anxiety among 33,908 Norwegian adults over 11 years.

People who did no exercise at all had a 44 per cent increased chance of developing depression, compared with those who were active for just one to two hours a week.

They also found 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just a single hour of exercise.

But the news wasn’t so good for anxiety, with no association found between the level and intensity of exercise and the chances of developing that disorder.

The study’s lead author says the findings are important given the rise of sedentary lifestyles and growing rates of depression worldwide.

In Australia, one million people suffer from depression but 20 per cent of the adult population does no regular exercise, and more than a third are active for less than 1.5 hours a week.

“We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression,” says Associate Professor Samuel Harvey from Black Dog Institute and the University of NSW.

“But this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression.”

Researchers are still trying to determine why exercise has a protective effect.

“But we believe it is from the combined impact of the various physical and social benefits of physical activity,” Dr Harvey says.

The study involved researchers from Black Dog Institute, Kings College London, UNSW Sydney, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, University of Bergen (Norway), Nordland Hospital Trust (Norway) and the Arctic University of Norway.

It has just been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Same-sex marriage: 9.2 million forms returned

Almost 60 per cent of eligible Australians have cast their votes in the same-sex marriage postal survey, but campaigners from both sides of the debate insist the fight is far from over.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics received about 9.2 million ballots by the end of last week, accounting for 57.5 per cent of the forms it sent out.

“We hope that this update will serve as a reminder to those who have not submitted their form to do so promptly if they wish to have their say,” deputy statistician Jonathan Palmer said on Tuesday.

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The ABS, which published the estimate on Tuesday afternoon, will provide an update every week until the postal survey closes on November 7.

The count is based on Australia Post’s assessment of the number of containers of sorted envelopes rather than a count of individual forms.

Marriage equality campaigner Alex Greenwich said research and polling showed a number of young people had filled in their forms but not yet returned them.

“So you have not voted until you have posted your ‘yes’,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“Do not leave your survey form in your gym bag or on the kitchen table, put that in the box. This document is too important to help shape our nation as a fairer and more equal place.”

The Coalition for Marriage says its campaigners will continue tirelessly until the ballot closes and the final person casts their vote.

“The statistics released today tell us that one-in-two Australians are yet to participate in this survey,” marriage equality opponent Lyle Shelton said in a statement.

“We want to make sure everyone has their say. Half of the country is yet to make up its mind – this conversation is still wide open.”

The results will be published on November 15.

Nine CEO gets pay rise despite annual loss

Nine Entertainment has rewarded ratings over revenue, with chief executive Hugh Marks awarded 70 per cent of his cash bonuses despite the broadcaster making a $203 million annual loss.

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Mr Marks took home $2.77 million in the year to June 30, including a salary of $1.38 million, cash bonuses of $895,000, and shares worth almost $450,000.

He was paid $1.14 million in the previous financial year, in which he was CEO for eight months.

Nine’s revenue dropped three per cent in 2016/17, and writedowns on assets including its TV network contributed to its loss for the year, while earnings rose two per cent.

Media analyst and Fusion Strategy managing director Steve Allen said Nine’s executive team had their bonuses aligned with the company’s market share, ratings and share price performance.

Nine shares rose 31 per cent in the 2016/17 financial year.

“In a shrinking media market, ratings and revenue share would feature strongly – and in those (Mr Marks) is delivering,” Mr Allen said.

Bonuses for Mr Marks were also related to his performance in improving supplementary revenue streams and content production.

Nine’s leadership in the key 25-54 age demographic has been enhanced by the success of productions like True Story with Hamish and Andy, and helped build its 9Now catch up service, which boasts 4.3 million registered users.

Subscribers for Nine’s on demand joint-venture, Stan, have also grown by 50 per cent.

Despite Nine’s market leading position, Mr Allen suggested its robust remuneration packages would eventually attract investor scrutiny.

“Nine’s board and executives seem to be doing a good deal better than shareholders and sooner or later they will be held to account,” Mr Allen said.

RBA’s Lowe upbeat but no clue on rates

While many economists have been talking up the risks of higher interest rates in the months ahead, the Reserve Bank has yet to show its hand.

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The central bank left the cash rate at it record low 1.5 per cent following its monthly board meeting on Tuesday – a rate that has stood since August last year.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe’s post-meeting statement maintained the upbeat tone of his recent speeches but gave no clue as to when borrowers could expect higher lending rates.

Financial markets are predicting the cash rate to rise to 1.75 per cent by August next year.

Dr Lowe acknowledged the 0.8 per cent expansion in economic growth during the June quarter, the first opportunity the board had had to respond to the most recent national accounts.

“This outcome and other recent data are consistent with the Bank’s expectation that growth in the Australian economy will gradually pick up over the coming year,” Dr Lowe said.

He noted employment has continued to grow strongly over recent months and how various forward-looking indicators point to further solid growth ahead.

While job advertisement figures released on Tuesday showed a flat result for September, this followed six straight months of increases and still stand 12.5 per cent higher than a year ago.

Separate data over the past couple of days also backed the governor’s view that the previous hotspot of the Sydney housing market is coming off the boil.

Building approvals in NSW fell almost 10 per cent in August, a day after data showed Sydney prices declined for the first time in 17 months in September,

Approvals across the country rose 0.4 per cent, but were still 15.5 per cent down on the year.

Dr Lowe says business conditions are at a high level but against this, slow growth in wages and high levels of household debt are likely to constrain growth in household spending.

Such contrasting thoughts were borne out by two surveys on Tuesday.

Debt recovery firm Prushka found two-thirds of small and medium-sized firms are confident about business conditions, up from 45 per cent when surveyed 12 months ago.

“This level of confidence is surprising in the current economic climate,” Prushka chief executive officer Roger Mendelson said.

In contrast, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index eased 0.6 per cent, its second consecutive week of decline, to remain only just above its long-term average.

Australian guitarist tells horror Vegas mass shooting story

An Australian guitarist has told how he ran for his life when bullets from what appeared to be “machine guns” began blasting at a concert crowd in on the Las Vegas strip.

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Ben Carey, who had played with his all-star band Elvis Monroe at the Route 91 Festival on the Las Vegas Strip earlier Sunday, was in the crowd to watch headliner Jason Aldean on Sunday night.

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He was standing with band mate Bryan Hopkins when a male crowd member to his right dropped to the ground.

Then two women to his left fell. One was lifeless. Panic set in.

“We realised we were under machine-gun fire and I grabbed Bryan’s arm and screamed ‘run’,” Carey, 42, who has previously played in bands including Savage Garden and Lighthouse, told CNN.

High above the outdoor concert in a two-room suite in the Mandalay Bay casino American man Stephen Paddock, 64, had smashed two holes in windows and was firing an arsenal of high-powered weapons with scopes and positioned on tripods.

Carey and Hopkins had no idea where the bullets were coming from.

They thought there were gunmen on the concert grounds.

A vigil honours the victims that were killed and injured when a gunman fired multiple shots into a crowd at a music festival in Las Vegas.AAP

Carey got knocked down by a stampeding crowd, lost track of Hopkins, then got up and ran to a fence but behind him were “thousands” of other panicked people trying to escape.

“I screamed at the guys next to me, ‘We have to break the fence’,” Carey said.

They pushed the fence down and people flowed out but then some fell to the ground.

“There were people falling left, right and centre,” he said.

“I didn’t know if they were tripping or shot.”

Carey then began running left and right to dodge the bullets that were still raining down and at the urging of another person he dived into a gutter until the shooting briefly stopped.

The Australian eventually made it down the strip to the MGM casino but there was another harrowing situation.

“A sea of people came into the MGM screaming ‘shooter’ and pandemonium set out and once again we were caught in a funnel of people,” he said.

Carey eventually found a safe place near the MGM pool.

Paddock, who had 23 guns in his hotel room, killed 59 people and injured 527 others.

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