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How Regular Exercise Can Lessen The Effects of Depression

by Kat » on Jul 07, 2014 0

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Statistics show that one in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression at some point in their lives. While pharmaceutical research has found many types of medication that can help treat depression, some people aren’t able to take those medications, or worry about the effects the drugs can have on the body. Though it’s not the solution for all depressed individuals, regular exercise can have a positive and lasting effect on brain chemistry. Here are five reasons why fitness can lead to mental and emotional wellbeing.

Boosts Endorphins

Exercise triggers the brain to release endorphins. These molecules are known as “feel good” chemicals in the brain. The runner’s high or feeling of euphoria that a person gets after a thorough workout is the result of these endorphins. Regular exercise at a moderate to vigorous pace can help to keep a flow of endorphins to the brain and body.

Moderates the Immune System

While the immune system does important work at fighting off infections, it also releases some harmful inflammatory molecules and other substances that can worsen depression. Regular exercise moderates these immune system factors while still allowing it to do its important infection-fighting work.

Reduces Anxiety

Regular exercise provides a good distraction from the worries and anxiety associated with depression. Exercising outdoors further helps to enhance these effects as the senses are able to take in the smells of nature, the natural sunlight, the sounds of animals and the feel of the breeze. Engaging in exercise on a daily basis can help to break the negative cycle of worry and dwelling on the difficulties of life.

Improves Social Interactions

Exercise provides the opportunity for increased social interaction. A strong social network is known to lessen the effects of depression. A smile from a friend or even a stranger can work wonders on a person’s mood. People who get outdoors to walk their dogs may benefit even more as time spent with a pet also helps reduce the symptoms of depression.

Offers a Healthy Strategy for Coping

When it comes to coping with problems and negative emotions, many strategies that people use are unhealthy and only add to their troubles. Exercise is a healthy and positive way to cope with the stress of life. The added benefits of physical fitness, weight maintenance or loss and increased strength can also boost a person’s confidence and self-esteem.

Even short bursts of physical activity can reduce the effects of depression. Experts like Dr. Amen, a psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist with Amen Clinics, suggest that all individuals, regardless of their mental health, choose their favorite activities to keep their workouts interesting. Anything that gets you moving will have beneficial effects on their moods.


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