What are the benefits of exercise with depression?
Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as "euphoric." That feeling, known as a "runner's high," can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.
Regular exercise has been proven to:
- • Reduce stress
- • Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
- • Boost self-esteem
- • Improve sleep
Exercise also has these added health benefits:
- • It strengthens your heart.
- • It increases energy levels.
- • It lowers blood pressure.
- • It improves muscle tone and strength.
- • It strengthens and builds bones.
- • It helps reduce body fat.
- • It makes you look fit and healthy.
Are there types of exercise that are better for depression?
It appears that any form of exercise can help depression. Some examples of moderate exercise include:
- • Biking
- • Dancing
- • Gardening
- • Golf (walking instead of using the cart)
- • Housework, especially sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming
- • Jogging at a moderate pace
- • Low-impact aerobics
- • Playing tennis
- • Swimming
- • Walking
- • Yard work, especially mowing or raking
- • Yoga
Because strong social support is important for those with depression, joining a group exercise class may be beneficial. Or you can exercise with a close friend or your partner. In doing so, you will benefit from the physical activity and emotional comfort, knowing that others are supportive of you.
Do I need to see a health professional?
For most people, it is OK to start moving a bit more and starting on an exercise program without checking with a health care provider. However, if you have not exercised in a while, are over age 50, or have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, talk to us before starting an exercise program. If you have any injuries, or specific goals you want to achieve, we can help you target your regime accordingly.
What types of exercise should I do?
Before you begin an exercise program for depression, here are some questions you should consider:
- • What physical activities do I enjoy?
- • Do I prefer group or individual activities?
- • What programs best fit my schedule?
- • Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
- • What goals do I have in mind? (e.g: weight loss, strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, or mood enhancement)
Come and talk to one of us at HBP Group if you’re not feeling at your best, and let’s work together to get you where you want to be.
With less time and space for safe outdoor activities, and more electronics competing for your child&...
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