Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology published a study that exercise promotes happiness. And, while exercise is not a cure all, it certainly does help alleviate depression symptoms.
People that are physically active and exercise at least three times a week reported general feelings of enthusiasm and excitement than less active people. Exercise may also reduce stress and help in better overnight sleep, while at the same time it has protective effect against feelings of depression. If you don’t exercise, it may be important that you start introducing slowly some exercise routine that can be practiced in addition to your depression treatment.
Researches said that exercise stimulates the release of many of the brain chemicals thought to be in the low supply in the people battling depression.
Most recommended workouts that fight depression are cardio exercises and aerobic. Some experts believe that 20 to 30 minutes a day should be enough to successfully battle depression. More recent studies have shown that there is no link between intensity of exercise and depression, so just simply exercising on daily basis, whether Pilates or yoga should be a great start. Some people while running experience something called “runner’s high” which is a stimulation of certain brain chemicals that help in overall well being that someone can experience while simply just running. Endorphins are our body’s natural morphine that are released by special glands in brains and produce sense of wellbeing and joy while decreasing pain levels.
A recent study of 45 stroke survivors with depression found that during 10 weeks of strength training program participants’ experienced significant decrease of depression symptoms. Researchers suggest that this is due to strength training being about control and mastery, which requires strong concentration and full attention. With this kind of training, people can see the results as they see their muscles forming on day to day basis from their training and dedication to feel better and build a stronger body. Should you choose to start new exercise program, please make sure you use a personal trainer if you feel that you need assistance.
Another option with starting a new exercise is to start practicing yoga. Study of 65 women with depression and anxiety found that 34 of them who took yoga class twice a week showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms when compared to the 31 women who were not in the class. Yoga is an eastern traditional exercise that improves flexibility, balance and strength. When practicing yoga, participants involve mindfulness that breaks up negative repetitive thoughts while making you aware of your breath during its meditative component. If you are new to yoga, start with the professional yoga class first so that you can be sure you’re doing your movements and poses properly.
Another great way to implement exercise in your life and reduce symptoms of anxiety and major depression disorder is to implement Tai Chi in your life. Tai Chi is an eastern traditional form of exercise similar to yoga in a way that involves slow and gentle movements. A study of 14 older Chinese patients that battled depression reported a significant improvement in their depression symptoms after only 3 month practice. As Thai Chi is done in group setting, researchers suggest that the social aspect of Thai Chi may have contributed to the effectiveness and reduction of depression symptoms.
If you do not like to exercise and all any form of exercise seems like a struggle to you, then you can just simply put your good running or hiking shoes on and walk every day. Everyone that doesn’t have any physical special needs can just simply go for a walk. It is suggested that you can walk for about half an hour every day and you will not only lower your blood pressure, increase blood flow through the body while providing so much needed oxygen to the brain. Any physical activity is better than being sedentary, so if you don’t feel like exercising, you can always go for a walk and you’ll feel better right after. Start of slowly, and soon you will notice that your pace will pick up and you will walk longer distance for the same length of time.
Other good physical activities that do not actually involve vigorous exercise are just being outdoors and doing things such as gardening, throwing a ball with the kids or washing your car. Healthy dose of sunlight increases our much needed vitamin D, whose deficiency is known to cause depression. Sunlight boosts our mood as it stimulates production of serotonin in our brain. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD has been linked to drops of serotonin levels during cold and dark winter months as we do not spend much time outdoors at that time nor we actually get enough sunlight.
Whatever physical activity we choose it is good for us. We should aim to do whatever we can depending on our energy, preferences and physical functioning level.