When you’re suffering from depression, it can be hard to find the energy to keep up any kind of fitness routine. However, persistence in performing regular workouts does take care of the body. It has been proven that exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression.
What Effect Does Exercise Have on Depression?
Broadly speaking, exercise has an overwhelmingly positive effect on depression. Exercise is prescribed as a treatment for mild to moderate cases and is known to play a key role in alleviating severe depression. Patients who engage in regular exercise find they are less prone to anxiety attacks and have more energy. They also experience a much-needed boost to their self-esteem and a significant reduction in stress levels. Exercise also helps to normalize sleep patterns, which can become highly irregular during depressive episodes.
Why Can Exercise Lift Your Mood?
The correlation between depression and exercise has not yet been fully explored, but there are a number of reasons why physical activity lifts your mood. For one thing, exercise promotes the release of endorphins in the bloodstream, which oxygenate the brain and directly improve mood. At the same time, it reduces the levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. The increase in body temperature that accompanies physical exertion is also thought to have a much-needed calming effect.
As to the psychological effects, exercise provides a distraction from the cycle of negative thoughts that characterizes depression. It gives you a healthy and productive way to cope with what you’re feeling. You’ll find that it coaxes you out of isolation and encourages interaction with other people.
What Exercises Can You Do?
The word “exercise” might make you think of structured workouts at the gym which will maintain your fitness while lifting your mood. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged if you aren’t feeling up to intensive workouts yet. Moving your body in any way at all will help with your depression. You can do household chores, work in the garden, or take a quick walk around the neighborhood. Anything that gets you out of bed or off of the couch will be a step towards recovery.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re caught in a depressive episode, but it will be worth the effort.
The Last Resort offers a comprehensive Fitness and Nutrition component to its treatment program. We also treat depression as a co-occurring disorder. For more information on our approach to recovery call 877-892-7997.