Depression continues to affect millions of people worldwide. Depression can affect a person’s home, professional, and social life as well as their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Simply put, depression is a debilitating mental health condition that impacts a person’s day-to-day and quality of life. Treatment for managing depression most commonly includes medication and/or counselling. This article considers the benefits of exercise in depression. Your diet may also impact your mood.
Exercise has been increasingly gaining recognition as an effective treatment approach in managing depression, in addition to pharmacological and psychotherapy interventions. In a recent study conducted in Sweden, participants found that exercise enhanced their feelings of “being alive” and productivity by doing something positive for themselves. It decreased their feelings of “numbness and stagnation” they often experienced during a depressive episode.
In addition to this, there are a few known biological, social, and psychological benefits that exercise has in treating depression:
Exercise has been known to ease depression as it releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals and hormones (such as endorphins) which naturally lift a person’s mood. It has also been known to improve a person’s immune system because it decreases cortisol which can worsen a person’s depression.
Whether you attend a local gym or walk around the block in your neighbourhood, exercise gives you the opportunity to interact with others. This can help build your support system which in turn, can make you feel better.
Any type of physical activity is a healthy, effective, and positive coping strategy that can help a person address their negative thoughts associated with depression. Establishing a regular routine that involves exercise will also improve a person’s self-confidence, which is one of the things most negatively impacted by depression in the first place.