5 Proven Benefits of Exercise in Depression Recovery
We’ve all heard it before; exercise is the solution to all your problems. Evidence is now mounting for the physical and psychological benefits of exercise in improving mood, and psychologists are increasingly using it as part of their treatment arsenal. Research has suggested that symptoms of depression can be improved through exercise. The notion of exercising in depression might sound exhausting in itself because when you’re depressed, exercising is the last thing on your to-do list. But to help you get motivated, here are some psychological benefits of exercise in depression recovery.
- Improved Self-esteem
An improved self-esteem is important to avoid a passive, apathetic outlook on life and the future. A positive perception of yourself and confidence in your abilities will boost your mental health and help you in taking on challenges, to focus on your ambitions, and to take risks you otherwise wouldn’t. When you exercise, you feel better physically and mentally both consequently acquiring the emotional stamina to take on personal goals and energy to overcome obstacles.
A major symptom of depression is a vicious cycle of negative thoughts about oneself; negative self-talk can become overwhelmingly pessimistic, and exercising can pull you out of the negative spiral by bolstering your self-confidence.
Exercise is all about setting and accomplishing a series of goals. Set yourself up to succeed by making realistic, attainable objectives and plan your exercise routine accordingly. This could include taking a brief walk for 30 minutes initially and then introducing gradual increments or lifting weights, stretching or working out. Attaining your desired goals will strengthen self-confidence, giving you a sense of fulfillment that you are in charge of your own feelings. Depression can fuel your insecurities, spiral feelings of self-hate, and lower confidence but exercise is your answer to tackle your emotions of despondency and hopelessness. Getting in shape can make you feel better about your appearance resulting in a stronger self-esteem.
The simplest, most convenient and inexpensive form of exercise is walking. A study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity established walking as an effective intervention for depression. They suggested that walking could significantly reduce depressive symptoms and produce positive effects for mental health.
- Social Interaction
We know the saying goes less is more, but let’s be honest, two is better than one. When it comes to working out, having a friend along to work with you is exceedingly beneficial. Exercising or engaging in physical activity with a friend can help you get more social interaction and the opportunity to meet, socialize and develop a bond with strangers. Social withdrawal and isolation is the most common tell-tale sign of depression, one vigorous exercise session with your friend can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may even significantly diminish them over time. The simple gesture of exchanging a friendly smile or look greeting as you stroll around your neighborhood or at the gym can help enlighten your mood. Engaging a positive friend in your exercise pursuits will keep you motivated and push you to perform to the best of your abilities. Having someone to chat with between exercises makes times go by faster and distracts you from nagging, agitating thoughts. Additionally, a friend who’s worked up a sweat with you is likely to be willing to catch a healthy meal with you; a healthy meal can safeguard your mental health and aid your recovery process.
- 3. Improved Mood
While exercise can help improve your waistline, aerobic capacity, and muscle size, it also acts as an antidepressant by enhancing your mood. Working up a good sweat can easily turn your day around. The secret to this lies in the production of endorphins, also known as happy hormones. Endorphins are regarded as natural painkillers because they aid in activating opioid receptors in the brain which then reduce discomfort producing feelings of happiness and joy. Exercise creates a huge endorphin rush and cannot only generate mood enhancement effects but can help alleviate symptoms of long-term depression. Using weed for depression produces the same feelings of euphoria that exercise can, so why not prefer something that is more favorable and advantageous? Read this useful article here. Exercise is a powerful tool that promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Furthermore, the release of endorphins livens up your spirits and stimulates feeling of exuberance. Exercise can help ward off depression and anxiety by enriching the body’s ability to respond to stressors. While certain kinds of physical activity such as running, lifting weights, playing basketball, swimming and other fitness activities improve blood flow and the amount of oxygen received by the brain and as a result improve mood, it’s important to remember that occupying yourself with other forms of physical activity such as gardening, washing your car, climbing up the stairs, walking around them on the beach or engaging in other less intense activities can elevate your mood. Basically, any physical activity that you believe can get you to move from your couch or bed can help improve your mood.
Fixating on your emotions and pessimistic, gloomy thoughts only serves to worsen the symptoms of depression. Exercise serves as a straightforward and effective strategy to improve your mood because it serves as a distraction. Constantly dwelling on your dismissive, cynical thoughts and feeling can flame melancholy, despair, or misery. While there exist an umpteen number of ways to distract yourself, exercise is one of the best. When you partake in any form of exercising, running or biking, for example, your mind focuses on the activity at hand distracting you from your otherwise consuming anxious, unhappy thoughts. Ultimately, exercise allows you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. Distraction is a powerful self-help strategy for battling dominating, uncontrollable thoughts.
- Healthy Coping Mechanism
Most people, when depressed turns towards dangerous coping mechanisms like harming themselves, consuming excessive alcohol, drugs, and suicidal ideation. Exercise, on the other hand, provides a healthy coping strategy that prevents you from drowning in negativity. Even doing 30 minutes or more of exercise every day can keep you away from maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Remember that you do not need to consider exercise as a chore or an obligation, consider it as therapy or something that will elevate your mood and help you get better. Identify what kind of physical activity you enjoy doing and find a way to do it and stick to it. Always take into consideration the effort you’re putting in and give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small it may be. You can also confer about your exercise program or physical activity routine with a mental health professional and discuss how to fit it into your overall treatment plan. When used in conjunction with proper medical treatment, exercising may prove to be the ideal therapy when recovering from depression. Incorporating regular exercise in your routine can boost your immune system and make the recovery to depression easier. Depression is not like healing from an injury, it takes time but you’ll get there. Take care!
Carolina is a mother of two kids. She loves writing about the physical and mental behavior of the children and adults. Her passion for writing reflects every aspect of life including social issues and healthy lifestyle. She ritually writes at shadedco.com, check her posts here.