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Decrease depression with exercise

Woman jogging for exercise

Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. While there are many treatments available for depression, including medication and therapy, exercise has emerged as an effective tool for managing the symptoms of depression.

According to the American Psychological Association, one in nine cases of depression could potentially be prevented if all adults did just 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

A natural mood booster

You can reap the mood-boosting rewards of exercise even if you’re not living with depression.  When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that can help to reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of pleasure. This can help lift your mood and reduce symptoms.

In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can help you get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. It can also improve self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment. 

Forms of exercise, and how much is enough?

There are many different types of exercise that can be helpful for managing depression. Running, cycling, or swimming have been shown to be particularly effective. However, any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up can be helpful. Consider walking, yoga, weightlifting, dancing, or whatever movement you most enjoy.

Best of all, it doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming to be effective. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day was enough to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Even short bouts of exercise can be beneficial for improving mood.

6 tips for moving more

  1. Change your mindset. Instead of thinking of physical activity as a chore, think of it as a way for your body to release happy hormones (endorphins)!
  2. Try walking. It’s effective and accessible for most people. In one study, 25% of depression was lowered among adults who walked briskly for 2.5 hours per week.
  3. Lift weights: To help build confidence, start lifting weights to build muscle. Having more muscle results in your body burning more fat, which is better for your cardiovascular system.
  4. Join a gym or try a class. Social interaction is an important pillar of wellness. This in itself can help in so many ways to build community and help you find people you can turn to when you need support.
  5. Make it playful. Exercise doesn't have to be boring! Try a variety of new things to find something that not only gets you moving, but brings you joy.
  6. Set achievable goals. To boost confidence, set goals you know you can attain (even if they seem easy at first). For example, go on a 10-minute walk three times a day.

If you're struggling with depression, adding more movement to your daily routine can be a helpful tool.

Talk to your doctor or mental health care provider to determine what type of exercise might be best for you and how to incorporate it into your treatment plan. Remember, exercise is just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan for depression.



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