Does Exercise Really Fight Depression
How does exercise relieve depression?
Can exercise actually make you feel happy and fight depression? Well research suggests that it can. It is believed that exercise releases certain chemical mediators in our body which give us a feeling of euphoria; certain exercises involve group activities this social interaction could also have appositive influence on our lives and help fight depression.
Research suggest that the therapeutic effects of exercise are greater than that of taking antidepressant. Antidepressants are associated with a number of side effects while exercise is only beneficial for you. The symptoms of depression also stayed away longer in those people who exercise regularly than in those taking antidepressants.
Theories to explain how exercise eases depression
There is no clear explanation as to how exercise can ease depression however there are 2 theories which could explain the beneficial effects of excersis on depression. These are:
- During exercise chemical messengers known as endorphins are release by the brain and spinal cord that have an action similar to morphine this gives you a high minus the side effects of morphine. Endorphins also help in improving our immunity and reduce the perception of pain.
- A second neurotransmitter could be released during exercise known as nor-epinephrine this has a direct mood elevating effect.
Psychological benefits of exercise:
Regular exercise has certain psychological benefits. These are:
- Increasing social interaction: An important aspect of dealing with depression is to increase social interaction, exercise allows you to meet and interact with new people.
- Improving self confidence: Exercising allows you to meat challenges and break your own limit, this can help boost your self confidence.
- Forgetting about you worries: Exercise allows you to get your mind of worries.
- Improves your coping mechanism: Exercise allows you to deal with stress, anxiety and depression in a healthy way.
Some exercise regimens that could ease depression:
Jogging or running: It is an aerobic exercise and evidence suggest that aerobic or cardiac exercises are the best in fighting depression. 20-30 min a day is all that is needed. Heading out for a jog in the morning or evening could help you relax, unwind and get your mind of worries.
Swimming: Another aerobic exercise, as it involves going to a pool the chances are that it will also help you make new friends. Half an hour is good enough.
Yoga: yoga is a wonderful way to help your mind and body relax, during yoga all your systems slow down and it is a great tool for people who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks.
Dancing: Taking dance classes could be a great idea and also it has several benefits other than the physical exercise it also help you make friends, unwind, enjoy and learn a new art form.
Extreme Sports: Although they cannot be done every day but extreme sports such as rock climbing, bunjje jumping can give you a great thrill and also boost up your confidence by allowing you to break boundaries.
How much exercise do I need?
There is no exact limit or criterion as to how much exercise is needed. However 30 min of any strenuous exercise will be good enough. However what is important is that you have a regular regimen and schedule as when you are depressed it is easy to let go and fall back into the pool of self pity.
How to get started?
If you are suffering from depression there is a good chance that you don’t feel like doing any thing and sticking to an exercise regimen may be a challenge. Here are certain steps that could help you establish a route for yourself:
- Pick a sport or exercise that you would enjoy such as dancing, swimming etc. there are greater chance you will stick to it and also enjoy it.
- Do it with someone who will motivate and support you.
- Don’t think of it as a chore but something that you enjoy and is good for you.
- Stick to the schedule no matter what, this could help boost you self confidence and add a measure of routine and stability to your life.