Exercise Helps Depression

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!”

Elle Woods in Legally Blond

If you are one of the 17.5 million people who will suffer some form of depression this year, try some form of exercise to boost your happiness and chase away the “blues” or clinical depression.

60-80% of all clinically depressed people can be treated with brief structured forms of counseling or psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. One of the most effective activities of the treatment plan is doing some form of exercise 5 or 6 days a week. A regular routine does wonders. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.

What Are the Psychological 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, when you run or workout the feeling you often experience is 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, diminishing the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. Manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, as well as other parts of your body they are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors that 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
  • Ameliorate depression
  • Ward off anxiety
  • Boost self esteem
  • Increase happiness and wellbeing
  • Improve sleep

Exercise also benefits your physical health. It strengthens your heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone and strength, strengthens and builds bones, helps reduce body fat, and makes you look fit and healthy.

Are there Types of Exercises 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
  • Power walking
  • Sports (most types)
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Yard work, especially mowing or raking
  • Yoga

Because strong social support is important for those with depression, exercising with a friend or your partner or joining a group exercise class may be beneficial. You will benefit from the physical activity and emotional comfort, knowing that others are supportive of you.

I often tell others that if they never did therapy for depression but exercised regularly, their depressed mood would diminish and their happiness and wellbeing would improve. And, according to Elle, if you are happy, you won’t end up shooting your husband!

If you want help with any of these issues, call me at 702-242-4222 or email.

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