How Exercise Helps Fight Depression

Depression, especially the kind that requires you to rely on medical treatment, is one of the most dreadful conditions that a human being can have. It’s nothing short of paralysing as it ensnares your mind.

Think of it as being trapped in a seemingly unrelenting quicksand. The more you struggle, the faster you sink. This feeling alone is enough to send anyone into despair. Imagine someone who would always have to contend with that thought for every second of her waking life. That’s pretty much what clinical depression feels like, but even so, that’s arguably just the tip of the iceberg for a lot of cases.

What makes matters worse is that the condition isn’t limited to behavioral symptoms alone. It also manifests physical symptoms that range from sleep problems and chronic fatigue to digestive issues and headaches, to name a few. Ultimately, its very nature of being a mental condition makes it more complicated to treat than other health issues.

Exercise as a Potent Remedy for Depression

What’s good is that you don’t always have to rely on external medical help to combat this crippling condition. This fact is significant because it means that there IS hope for every person out there who has had the misfortune to be diagnosed with depression.

Yet, at the back of their minds, this is probably not a surprise for a lot of people…. After all, you’ve probably felt it as well. That inimitable rush during, for instance, the first few minutes after you’ve started jogging. It’s the thrill of doing something you enjoy, of moving and being free. It gives you a positive feeling similar to how an antidepressant works. Joggers fondly call it “runner’s high”.

The same can be said for the almost zen-like bliss one feels when doing a yoga position. Some people even imagine that they’re floating among the clouds, their worrying thoughts all but dispelled (albeit temporarily). How is exercise able to bring about these powerful effects?

The Science Behind This

The moment you start exercising, your body begins to release endorphins which are also called the feel-good chemicals of the body. They’re partly responsible for giving you that unique feeling of well-being described above and pretty much exemplifies how exercise helps fight depression.

Experts also point to exercise’s ability to spur the growth of nerve cells, particularly in the hippocampus region. This is the region that is responsible for regulating mood. The more nerve cells develop in it, the less likely it is for a person to experience the usual symptoms of depression.

Exercises that Can Help You Beat Depression

1. Walking or Jogging

Regardless of which one’s your cup of tea, you can rest assured that these basic exercises can certainly improve your mood over time as long as you stick to doing either one or both on a consistent basis. As much as 30 minutes a day doing these exercises would suffice for most.

2. Yoga

As said above, this is one of the proven exercises that is specially recommended for people suffering from depression simply because it is also a form of meditation. It encourages empathy and makes you feel at peace with the world and people around you, especially if you are going to do it with fellow yogis.

3. Strength Training

Improving your strength gives you the feeling of mastery over your body. Without a doubt, it also boosts confidence that a lot of depression patients lack. From weightlifting to push-ups, these exercises also teaches you to concentrate, which is necessary for you to not get distracted by anxious and worrying thoughts.

4. Tai Chi

Tai chi is another specific martial art that a lot people with depression should consider learning because it is an exercise that is also centered on mindfulness. Similar to yoga, it is also almost always done in groups. Without a doubt, this social feature is also a major factor as to why these specific meditative exercises can effectively improve depression symptoms.