Depression affects nearly 14.8 million adults a year. The risk is even higher for women who are twice as likely to have depression then men. While doctors typically recommend therapy, medication or both, new studies show that exercise can make a difference to those who suffer from mild forms of depression.
According to the Mayo clinic a couple of really interesting things happen to your body when you exercise:
It releases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your body. It’s like turning on your favourite song and getting into the groove.
It reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse. Your body starts helping itself by getting rid of the chemicals that help depression thrive.
It increases your body temperature – creating a calming effect on your body. Ever notice how a hot cup of tea or a trip to the sauna relaxes you in no time at all? The same thing happens when you heat up from exercising.
Exercise has many added emotional and psychological benefits as well. Did you know that even exchanging a smile or a simple hello can help boost your mood? Whether you’re taking a class, working out with a friend or walking on your own, exercise gives you the chance to socialize and interact more with your fellow man. You’ll also gain confidence as your start to feel better about your appearance and meet your exercise goals.
By focusing on exercise rather than negative thoughts, you can start to break the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel anxiety and depression.
What Kind of Exercise?
Both aerobic exercise and weight training have been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression. Basically, anything that gets you moving and your heart rate up for at least 20-30 minutes can activate the natural depression fighting mechanisms in your body and help you to beat the blues.
How to Stay Motivated
If you want to make it easier to stick to your goals, try and pick something that you actually enjoy doing. Maybe you loved dance as a child or you like to sweat it out on the tennis court – whatever it is – make sure it’s something you truly love. This could be your chance to reconnect with an old passion so take advantage of it. If working out with a buddy motivates you, make sure you reach out and find someone to share your fitness goals with. This could mean finding a walking buddy or playing a game of pick-up volleyball. You’ll get to socialize and make a positive difference in your health – sounds like a win/win!
Still Not Feeling It?
If you’re finding it hard to get motivated and moving because you’ve been down in the dumps for a while now, you may be suffering from more than just mild depression. Talk to your doctor about what’s going on to get the help that’s right for you. They can diagnose your symptoms properly and find a solution that works for you.