Depression can be a very tough nut to crack. You can feel so depressed that anything you could do to help you feel better feels like a battle. Add in the stigma that society can put on people that are facing depression coupled with the dismissive way that some people may treat those with depression in saying they just need to be happy, it’s that much harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For many, they don’t want to go the medication route, so they wonder what else can help with depression naturally. The question to ask yourself is can exercise help depression?
What Science Says
There is a link between exercise and depression. The physical act of moving your body will do a few things for you that can act as a natural mood enhancer.
- Exercise will release chemicals into your body that make you feel good naturally, such as endorphins.
- •Exercise can help to reduce chemicals in your immune system that can make depression more evident.
- •Exercise also increases your body temperature, which has been shown to have an effect of calming.
- Exercising can also have some side benefits that also help to improve depression. Setting and achieving goals, even small ones, can help to improve your confidence.
- Exercise can be a distraction from your worries and thoughts.
- Exercise can help you to be more social with even smiling at others as they pass you by on your walk.
- Exercise can also be a very healthy coping mechanism.
Time to Get Moving
If depression keeps you down, it’s time to get moving. Now, some people may find the thought of joining an exercise program too overwhelming to consider. The good news here is that you don’t have to sign up for an exercise class or even join a gym. Research has found that any physical activity can help to improve depression. This means taking a short walk, dancing around your home, gardening, and so on. When depressed, it may be hard to get up and go, but if you find something that you enjoy doing, it may be just that much easier to get started.
Tips to Get Started
- Talk with your physician about what physical activities you’re allowed to participate in.
- Start small if you haven’t been very physically active lately as overdoing it can be hard on you.
- Set realistic goals towards what you want to accomplish, but don’t make it so that you will be discouraged.
- Keep a log of your physical activity as this will be a reminder of your accomplishments.
- Change your mindset about exercise in changing it from being a chore to fun.
- Don’t let small setbacks hurt your emotional health.
Depression can be a very debilitating condition to deal with, and often, can run in a cycle. One way to beat that cycle is by turning towards exercise. Exercise has been found by researchers to have a variety of ways to improve your mental health. Each step you take is towards a happier and healthier you thanks to nature. Not everyone will see the same results, but you have nothing to lose.