What are the effects of exercise on depression?When you are suffering from depression, exercise seems like the last thing on your mind. However, if you can just motivate yourself to get started, it can create a huge difference. Exercise helps to prevent various health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. Research on depression indicates that the physical and psychological benefits of exercise can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
How Does Exercise Help Depression?
The links between depression, anxiety, and exercise are not crystal clear. However, working out and other forms of physical exercise have been shown to ease the symptoms of depression and leave you feeling better.Mental health professionals have been proclaiming for decades that exercise can go a long way in treating depression.
When we exercise we increase the level of activity of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which are necessary brain chemicals that we need to maintain at optimum levels.At the same time exercise boosts the release in the brain of the hormone BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
The levels of this hormone drop considerably during depression, consequently, parts of the brain begin to shrink over time, reducing memory and learning ability.The flow of nutrients and oxygen is increased with physical activity and also the release of hormones as mentioned earlier providing greater protection to the brain and even reversing the detrimental effects of the BDNF(brain-derived neurotrophic factor)when it falls below normal levels.
Studies have found that people are less likely to relapse after recovering from depression if they exercise three times a week or more.
Effects Of Exercise On Depression
Working out regularly can help to reduce depression in the following ways.
* Confidence booster
Meeting exercise challenges and goals, regardless of how big or small they are, can improve your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also improve your physical appearance while leaving you feeling good.
* Keep worries away
Physical activity and exercise is a positive form of distraction. It can keep away the cycle of negative thoughts, which feed depression and anxiety. In addition to that, every time you feel low, just hit the gym and you will feel reinvigorated.
Exercising may give you an opportunity to meet and socialize with others. As you do your morning jog or head to the gym, chances are very high that others will join you. Exchanging a simple greeting or even a smile can lift your spirits.
* Healthy way of coping
People cope with depression in different ways. Some will abuse drugs and drown their sorrows in alcohol. This just worsens the problem. Alcohol is not a long-term solution to anything. The depression will be back as soon as you are sober. On the other hand, physical activity and exercise will help you to cope with the depression in a healthy way.
Which exercises are recommended?
Most people believe that structured exercises are the only option. However, any form of physical activity, including light walking can boost your mood. Exercise and physical activity are different but they both have long-lasting health benefits.
Exercising does not mean running laps round the gym. There is a wide range of exercises that can improve your mood, without stretching yourself too much. Although lifting weights, running and playing basketball can get your heart pumping and ease your depression, simple activities like gardening, washing your car and walking around your home can also help.
Any physical activity that gets you out of the house can help to improve your mood. Remember that you don’t have to do all the exercises in a single day. Just spread them out throughout the week. Incorporate smaller activities into your daily schedule. For example, instead of using the elevator, take the stairs. Park further from your workplace so that you can walk a longer distance. If you live close to your workplace, just walk.
Doing a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, for at least 3 times per week can improve your mood and significantly reduce your depression symptoms. The health benefits of physical activity and exercise will only last if you stick to a schedule for a long time. Once you choose an exercise you love, you will never feel pushed to exercise.