How Exercise Can Help With Depression And Anxiety
Besides putting you in a better mood afterward, exercise can help alleviate the effects of depression and anxiety. Working out often is celebrated for its ability to physically transform the body, but it also has an abundance of benefits for the mind. While those experiencing the symptoms of anxiety or depression always should seek advice from a mental health professional, people everywhere might just have one more reason to hit the gym or put on their walking shoes.
Exercise Is Always Good For Mental Health Problems
Usually, maybe always? Definitely not. For example, I know that I am far from the only bipolar person who over-exercises in a high, sometimes to the point that I injure myself. If I am feeling a little elated, I can naughtily develop my hypomania, by undertaking repetitive exercise. Running is especially powerful, particularly if I listen to fast music on headphones as I run. There is a lot of counting involved in many forms of exercise reps, lengths, laps which can feed into obsessive traits, and over-exercising can be an integral part of eating disorders.
So lets celebrate when we find exercise helpful! Whether you believe todays reports, or have faith in previous studies recommending exercise for mental distress, what ultimately matters is whether it works for you. And if you are depressed but exercise is beyond you right now, please dont feel guilty. We can only do what we can do.
Tips To Help You Get Started
People with depression may find it difficult to get started or get motivated, or continue to exercise on a long-term basis. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Start simple increase your activity levels gradually to improve your self-confidence and build motivation for more energetic activities. Start with simple activities such as shopping, gardening or small household tasks.
- Do what is enjoyable people with anxiety or depression often lose interest and pleasure in doing things they once enjoyed. Plan activities that you used to find enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying with friends or family with time these activities will become enjoyable again.
- Include other people people with anxiety or depression often withdraw from others, but continuing to socialise is an important part of recovery. Staying connected with friends and family can help increase wellbeing and confidence and provide opportunities to socialise.
- Make a plan planning a routine can help people become more active. Make sure some form of exercise is included each day. Try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but be flexible.
- If you havent exercised for a while, see your doctor and complete an Adult Pre-Exercise Screening Questionnaire before starting an exercise program.
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Can Promote Better Sleep
One commonly overlooked factor in maintaining mental health is how well you sleep at night.
Although several factors affect your sleep quality, your level of physical activity appears to be particularly influential.
A 2017 review of 34 studies concluded that exercise, regardless of the type, can improve sleep efficiency and duration .
Whats more, exercise may improve sleep onset latency, or the time it takes you to fall asleep .
Therefore, if you have difficulty getting enough quality sleep, incorporating regular exercise regardless of the type may provide great benefits.
When To See A Doctor For Depression
If you feel like you want to hurt yourself or have suicidal thoughts, Dr. Stowell says thats an emergency situation and you should seek care ASAP.
People need to have five symptoms of depression every day, nearly all day, for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression, the NIMH says. If you think you have depression, talk to your healthcare provider. Your general physician can diagnose and treat depression or they may refer you to a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist.
If youre feeling depressed and its impacting your functioning, you want to see professional, Dr. Stowell says. We all have days where we might be sad, but its an issue when its a pervasive pattern that doesnt seem to improve over time.
And, if you’re not sure if you might be struggling with depression, it’s a good idea to speak up anyway, Dr. Ammon says. “If youre noticing a shift in your mood or have concerns, it can be beneficial to discuss them with your doctor proactively,” she says. “There is no wrong time to discuss these concerns with your medical provider.”
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Exercise: Can It Help To Treat Depression
Published Jan 31, 2022 By Courtney Johnson
1 in 10 adults in the United States is living with depression, and regimens of antidepressant medications are the standard course of treatment. However, pharmaceutical treatments are far from the only solution!
Research in recent years has shown that exercise is also an effective treatment option when it comes to mental health conditions.
How does exercise benefit our mental health? What is the link between exercise and depression?
We explain it all on Carenity!
When you have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression, exercise can seem like the last thing you want to do. But, if you can find motivation, physical activity can make a big difference to your mental health!
Exercise has been proven to help prevent and improve a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Research has also shown that being active regularly can , improve sleep, and lower stress.
While both pharmaceutical treatments and psychotherapy are the most common and effective methods for treating depression, research in recent years supports that lifestyle interventions like physical activity can also be an effective tool in depression management.
Getting Active Helps Us To Feel More In Control Of Our Lives
Posted March 11, 2019
Several randomized controlled trials have shown that physical exercise is as effective at treating depression as medication, specifically compared to treatment with second-generation anti-depressants. The mechanism for the effectiveness of exercise may have to do with increased neuroplasticity in the hippocampus, a feature embedded in the frontal lobe responsible for learning and memory, mood and appetite. Atrophy in the hippocampus is associated with many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Given that depression is often associated with sedentary states and is also associated with the hippocampus, it makes sense that physical activity could help to reverse its effects.
While medications are certainly effective for many people, others may not respond to drug treatment or find that antidepressants have serious side effects. According to a 2017 meta-analysis, “Almost all the reviews examining exercise vs. other treatments of depression, including antidepressants, support the use of exercise in the treatment of depression, at least as an adjunctive therapy” . The HUNT cohort study of 33,908 adults, followed over 11 years, found that physical exercise actually has a protective function when it comes to mental health. The study found that even minimal amounts of physical activityas little as one hour per weekcould prevent 12 percent of future cases of depression.
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How Low Levels Of Exercise Contribute To Depression
The correlation between regular exercise and a decrease in depression symptoms has been studied and supported for years. But recently, a link between low fitness levels and higher depression has caused researchers to take a second look at the role exercise plays in mental health.
A 2020 study published in BMC Medicine found that people with low aerobic and muscular fitness levels are nearly twice as likely to experience depression. The findings indicate a dose-response relationship with low and medium cardiorespiratory fitness and grip strength associated with higher odds of depression and anxiety.
Based on the results, researchers believe that fitness could be an objectively measurable indicator and a modifiable risk factor for common mental disorders in the population.
Exercise May Help To Fend Off Depression
Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for somewhat longer, could help protect people against developing depression.
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Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for somewhat longer, could help protect people against developing depression, according to an innovative new study published last month in JAMA Psychiatry. The study involved hundreds of thousands of people and used a type of statistical analysis to establish, for the first time, that physical activity may help prevent depression, a finding with considerable relevance for any of us interested in maintaining or bolstering our mental health.
Plenty of past studies have examined the connections between exercise, moods and psychological well-being, of course. And most have concluded that physically active people tend to be happier and less prone to anxiety and severe depression than people who seldom move much.
To show causation, scientists rely on randomized experiments, during which they assign people to, for instance, exercise or not and then monitor the outcomes. Researchers have been using randomized trials to look at whether exercise can treat depression after people already have developed the condition, and the results have been encouraging.
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How Often Do You Need To Exercise
To stay healthy, adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.
Read more about:
If you have not exercised for a while, start gradually and aim to build up towards achieving 150 minutes a week.
Any exercise is better than none and even a brisk 10-minute walk can clear your mind and help you relax. Find out more about walking for health.
Proposed Mechanisms For The Exercise
While the research is consistent and points to a relationship between exercise and depression, the mechanisms underlying the antidepressant effects of exercise remain unclear. Several credible physiologic and psychological mechanisms have been described, such as the thermogenic hypothesis,36 the endorphin hypothesis,37,38 the monoamine hypothesis,3942 the distraction hypothesis,43 and the enhancement of self-efficacy.29,4346 However, there is little research evidence to either support or refute most of these theories.
The Myths Of Exercise And Depression
Friday, 08 June 2012Charlotte
Charlotte reflects on the value of exercise as a means of coping with a mental health problem.
Earlier this week, the BBC News site reported on a study into exercise and depressionwritten up in the British Medical Journal. Exercise no help for depression is how the BBC summed up the study. Immediately, Twitter went wild, with countless sufferers of mental health conditions chipping in to say that they were a firm fan of exercise as a means of coping with their problems.
But what does this study really tell us? That the particular intervention face to face and telephone coaching to encourage people to use what facilities are available to them locally did not make any noticeable difference to the participants level of depression in comparison with people with similar symptoms who did not receive the intervention.
The intervention was specifically designed to be something that could be easily carried out in primary care, in other words it was designed to meet the needs/limitations of treating depression in primary care. It was not designed around what people with depression or in a specific local area thought might be helpful.
So maybe this study just wasnt measuring the right things, or offering the right intervention. I certainly dont think we should chuck exercise on the scrapheap just yet.
Read about depression
Let Us Help You Manage & Treat Your Depression
Depression can be exhausting and frustrating, but exercise can help. Physical fitness may regenerate your brain and may improve your mental health, too. Here at StoneRidge Centers, we combine brain science with compassionate care.
You dont have to let depression run your life. We can help you manage depression clinically, medically, psychologically, and naturally. Call us today at 928-583-7799 if you or a loved one is dealing with depression.
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Exercise On Your Mattress
If youre not able to get out of bed on those rough days, you can even exercise while staying in bed.
You can exercise in the supine position that is, lying down, face up, with your feet on the mattress while lifting your legs and lower body in intervals.
You can also try yoga inversions, like Viparita Karani, which involves lying down while putting your legs up the wall.
Gives A Person A Break From Stress
Another theory is called the time-out hypothesis. This posits that exercise reduces stress by providing a break from it. For example, a person may lower their stress levels at work by going for a brisk walk on their lunch break.
Researchers in an older 1998 study tested the time-out hypothesis in a small group of females with anxiety and found that exercising caused lower anxiety levels.
A 2021 study of high school students had similar findings. Researchers found that a 10-minute exercise break during a stressful exam week resulted in lower stress levels and improved cognitive function.
Many studies on exercise for stress relief focus on aerobic activity. This does not mean that other types of exercise, such as weight training, are not effective they are just less widely studied.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , people should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.
People who experience work-related stress may wish to divide their daily exercise into shorter sessions. They can perform these before work, during a lunch break, or after work.
Many physical activities fall into the category of aerobic exercise, but the suggests brisk walking. A person can choose another activity they enjoy, such as:
The authors stated that exercise may aid in treating anxiety disorders through a broad spectrum of benefits.
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How To Get Started With Exercise
Find an activity you can do regularly. You can take part in a team sport, attend classes at a leisure centre, or just be more active in your daily routine by walking or cycling instead of travelling by car or public transport.
If being outdoors appeals to you, Green Gym projects, run by The Conservation Volunteers , provide exercise for people who do not like the idea of the gym or indoor exercise classes. To find out more, visit the TCV website.
If you like walking, groups such as Ramblers Wellbeing Walks can support people who have health problems, including mental health conditions.
What Should I Do If Exercise Is Painful
Never ignore pain. You may cause stress and damage to your joints and muscles if you continue exercising through pain.
If you still feel pain a couple hours after exercising, you have probably overexerted yourself and need to decrease your activity level. If your pain persists or is severe, or if you suspect you have injured yourself, contact your doctor.
If you are unable to regularly participate in exercise or athletics, you can also try other tools to help boost your mood. Studies of meditation and massage therapy have demonstrated that these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion, increase relaxation, and aid in boosting mood.
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Even A Little Bit Of Activity Is Better Than Nothing
If you dont have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, for example, thats okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy youll have, so eventually youll feel ready for a little more. The key is to commit to some moderate physical activityhowever littleon most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.
Can Exercise Really Help Relieve Depression
The idea that regular exercise can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety is not new. Hippocrates was the first Western physician to prescribe this treatment 2,500 years ago, and doctors have been recommending it to patients ever since. If you suffer from chronic depression, exercise wont be the only treatment youll need, but it will help along with your recovery and maintenance plan. Whereas medication and counseling can take weeks to work, research shows that you can start feeling the positive effects of exercise right away.
In addition to these physiological benefits, exercise can promote psychological and emotional changes:
- Distraction.One of the most debilitating effects of depression is that it causes you to focus on whats wrong and dwell on the negative. With the right approach, exercise can help you find some pleasure amid apparent troubles.
- Confidence. The feelings that come with depression often cause people to withdraw from normal activities and pursuits, leading to a loss of self-confidence. By setting and meeting a goal, like a small amount of exercise each day, you can begin to rebuild confidence and self-efficacy.
- Self-respect.Taking the time to do something positive every day can help you reconnect with the part of yourself that wants to be healthy and productive. Exercise can be a positive coping strategy.
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