If you’re feeling down, or struggling with the jitters, exercising is probably the last thing you’re in the mood for, but it may be the best thing for you according to experts. Exercise can definitely help with depression and anxiety! In fact, easing depression and anxiety symptoms with exercise might just make all the difference it the world.
Can Exercise Help With Depression and Anxiety?
We know that exercise is good for preventing or improving health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. What’s not as well known is what exercise can do for your mental state.
Research has shown that the psychological and physical benefits of exercises can help bring down anxiety and improve your mood.
The ties between exercise, anxiety and depression still aren’t fully understood, but we do know that working out can help you burn off tension and feel better.
The workout might even keep the anxiety and depression symptoms from coming back.
Before you start getting physically active, talk with your doctor so you know what activities, how much exercise and at what intensity is best for you. Your own doctor knows best about any medications you take, and health conditions you have and can also be an unexpected source of advice for getting started or staying motivated.
7 Ways Exercise Can Help With Depression and Anxiety
- Physical activity releases the feel good chemicals in your brain
- Decreases the amount of immune system chemicals that may make depression worse.
- Increases your body temperature, which has a calming effect.
- Help build personal confidence by meeting exercise goals, and feeling better about how you look after a few weeks of regular exercise.
- Exercise is the best distraction from worries as it takes you out of the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel both depression and anxiety.
- Provides positive social interaction during exercise if you walk with a partner, or soothing time alone if not.
- Engaging in a healthy, constructive coping strategy for managing anxiety or depression puts you in control, instead of at the whims of thoughts and emotions.
Other things you might have tried may only have made things worse? Exercise, on the other hand, is a natural chance to build confidence and coping skills as you make things better for yourself too.
Keep in mind that while exercise can help with depression and anxiety, it can’t take the place of medication or other therapy you are already engaged in.
You’ll want to continue to work on your depression or anxiety root issues with your therapist, and don’t stop or change a dose on any medication, even when you feel better.
Before you decide if exercise is right for you, understand that we’re talking about more than working out at the gym or swimming laps at the pool.
There are many other workouts and forms of exercise that can be just as effective in lifting mood, easing tension. In fact, anything that gets your heart pumping will do… this includes working in the garden, washing your car, walking around the block, playing basketball with your kids or other everyday activities.
Anything that gets you up and off the couch will help with depression and anxiety symptoms.
What’s more, you don’t have to do all your exercise at one time for this natural anxiety relief to work.
You can add small amounts of activity all through your day that add up to the benefits of a 30 minutes at once workout.
You probably won’t notice much or any improvement at all if your exercise is a hit and miss program?
To see results and a big improvement in your depression and anxiety symptoms, exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. If you actually want to see real real results from your exercise regime, 5 days a week for an absolute minimum of 20 minutes with each session.
Generally more vigorous activities (running or cycling) are especially good for mood when you don’t have a lot of time.
Starting, and sticking with, an exercise program can be challenging, so we’ve included some suggestions that might help…
- Find what you like to do and you’re more likely to stick with it. Gardening after work? A jog before dawn? A bike ride with the kids? Find what activity fits into your life and that you genuinely enjoy. Do that as often as you can.
- Set realistic goals. You don’t have to be athlete fit to be successful, instead think honestly about what you’ll really be able to do. Forget guidelines for the moment and focus on getting more active.
- Stop thinking about exercise as a chore, a “should” in your life because when you don’t think you’re living up to this, you associate exercise with failure. Look at exercise the same way you would medication or a therapy session, a tool to help you get better that you need to make time for if you want things to change.
- Look at what’s stopping you from exercising and you’ll likely come to see an alternative solution, if you look hard enough. If you’re self-conscious about how you look, or your fitness level, exercise at home. If you work better with a partner to motivate you, find someone to work out with. Money tight? Find exercises that don’t cost anything, like walking or gardening.
- Be prepared for setbacks or obstacles, and don’t let them stop you. Yes you might be too busy one day to exercise, but don’t let that derail the whole idea, just try again the next day. Each day is a fresh start.
Regular exercise has a great number of positive effects on depression and anxiety.
Check out this post: Does Exercise Help Anxiety?
Even people who never exercise are aware of it’s health benefits, but for some reason not so many people are aware of how it helps anxiety and depression.
But, exercising for as little as 15-20 minutes releases endorphins into your system. Endorphins, or feel good hormones, are know to create a natural state of euphoria.
Most any thing you do to exert yourself physically helps release built up tension and stress from your muscles and relaxes you.
Both depression and anxiety can seriously reduce your energy levels. However, regular exercise increases energy levels as it gives your self esteem a healthy boost.
Another interesting point is that exercising has a cumulative effect on your depression and anxiety. Just exercising every now and then won’t have nearly as much long term effect as several days a week.
And the good news is that you don’t need to do any physical activity that you don’t enjoy for the benefits. Most of the population doesn’t really enjoy gyms and lifting weights, so if that’s you, don’t bother with it.
Just think of something to get you up and moving. You might try biking, swimming, walking, yoga, running, working outside, or even going fishing. If you’re looking for something to help your depression and anxiety, exercise can definitely help.