How To Help Depression With Exercise

There are many causes of depression. Some are severe and require clinical intervention. Others are mild, such as waking up to an overcast day. Depression caused by losing a job or a broken relationship may be more serious, but just like mild depression, exercise helps. No matter what the cause, exercise can help reduce depression. Therapists use exercise as an adjunct therapy. If depression occurs because of a broken relationship, exercise can do double duty. It can help you feel better and look fabulous, too. There’s no better revenge than making yourself look better.

You can do an exercise routine or go for a walk.

Just moving is what’s important. The more you move, the more improved your circulation and the more blood goes to the brain. That can improve your mental state. Benefits increase if your workout is more intense or a HIIT—high intensity interval training—session. The more intensity you put forth, the more stress hormones you burn. You also increase the happy hormones you create.

Exercise diverts your attention.

If you have a problem or a situation that makes you depressed, often all your thoughts and all your energy go into mulling it over and reliving it again. Exercising can divert your attention. If you’re walking, watching where you are going is a diversion. You can increase the effect by counting your steps. Think of the happiest song you know and play it in your head as you walk. Hum it or sing it if you’re working out where that’s possible.

Exercise increases neurogenesis—the process of creating new brain cells.

Whether you choose strength training, dancing, or other types of exercise, you’ll boost the potential to create new brain cells as you improve your overall fitness. Studies show that stroke patients suffered less depression when they did strength-building exercises for ten weeks. The stronger you are, the more in control you feel and part of depression is the feeling you don’t control your life. Combining intense aerobic exercise to burn off hormones with strength-building exercises, such as circuit training where you don’t rest very long between exercises, can help boost your mood faster and diminish depression.

  • If you aren’t in shape or need a low-impact workout, consider yoga or tai chi. It’s especially good for seniors who often suffer from low-grade depression. Joining a yoga or tai chi class also provides socialization, which can help depressed people.
  • Exercising can get you up and moving. Too often depressed people just want to go to bed or sit on the couch. As you workout, your desire to hide under the covers will disappear.
  • When you exercise, you feel a sense of accomplishment and that you’re doing something to get your life back in control. It can help you feel stronger, making it harder to feel depressed.
  • Do an activity you love. Whether it’s bike riding, shooting hoops, dancing, or traditional exercise, just moving helps. It can be as simple as running up and down the steps.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching

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