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Why exercise helps with depression, and does it work for a longer time?
Is the sport generally healthy? Sure, we all know that. Exercises are suitable for the body. It helps to prevent and improve several health problems. There are the promotion of your endurance and the strengthening of the immune system.
Sport is also good for your psyche: if you are active in competition, for example, you will reduce the risk of developing depression by 50% in the next eight years.
If you want to prevent this, it is a good idea to exercise regularly and see why exercise helps with depression.
Today it is about what sport can do for you if you are already depressed.
People who suffer from anxiety and depression often have to take medication or go to a therapist.
Although these options can be helpful, several other factors affect your overall mood, and one of them is physical activity.
Why does exercise help with depression as a natural antidepressant?
Even the ancient Greeks prescribed people with melancholy – as depression was then called – to exercise a lot.
The positive effects of sport on depression are only well known for a few years now.
And see: there is a considerable body of data showing that sport is a natural antidepressant.
Remember: most of us characterize depression by a complete loss of interest and pleasure.
Nothing seems more attractive; nothing draws more joy from nothing. Besides, there is a feeling of inner emptiness. Everything seems meaningless and hopeless. A reduced drive is also characteristic. The effect is that depressives sometimes can’t get their act together anymore.
But depression can be treated:
If you face the disease and seek medical help, depression is usually easy to control.
You do it usually through medication and psychotherapy.
Increasingly, therapists are now trying out exercise programs for the treatment of depression.
Here is a good reason why exercise helps with depression
Many studies why exercise helps with depression is the unanimous conclusion that sport has mood-enhancing effects. It may sound surprising that the frequency of your training can affect your mental well-being.
However, our physical bodies and minds are closely linked. So if you pay attention to one, it has a positive effect on the other.
Several studies have shown why exercise helps with depression. That is because use reduces anxiety and promotes well-being. As with depression, training can be useful if not more effective than medication.
A study from Duke University why exercise helps with depression
In a study from Duke University in North Carolina, 14 minutes on the wheel reduced depressive symptoms by 82 percent. Almost all participants felt more enterprising and energetic than before.
That is a significant effect, considering that a lack of drive characterizes depression. But physical exercise does not only lead to short-term beneficial effects. Sport is also effective against depression in the long term. How effective the same researchers found when they divided their depressive test subjects into three groups.
The first group was treated purely with drugs. The second group got a combination of medication and exercise, and the third only completed the endurance exercise program.
The results showed why exercise helps with depression because regular endurance training had comparable mood-enhancing effects to treatment with antidepressants. The best results in this study were achieved by participants who received a combination of sport and medication.
However, the relapse rate of those who had only done sport was the lowest of all three groups at 8%.
For comparison: in the drug group, it was 38%.
The more exercise the participants did over the next six months, the less likely they were to return to depressive symptoms.
Other research results why exercise helps with depression
Similar conclusion in other researches: in 35 out of 39 evaluated studies with over 2,000 test subjects, sport proved to be effective against depression. The effect sizes were comparable to those of psychotherapy or antidepressants.
Therefore, regular endurance training can help in the same way as therapeutic and medicinal treatment under certain conditions.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, exercise will probably be the last thing you think about and want to do. Think of the symptom of listlessness! But once you are motivated, the practice can make a big difference.
Studies on Depression, Anxiety, and Physical activity show that the mental and physical benefits of physical activity can also help to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise can also help prevent depression and anxiety. Prerequisite: You feel better, and that’s a further reason why exercise helps with depression.
Why does exercise help with depression and anxiety?
Several factors play a role:
1. changes in brain chemistry:
Physical exertion stimulates the production of some neurotransmitters. If you have depression, you will find it in a smaller number.
Serotonin levels also seem to be positively influenced by sport. It is also scientifically proven that endurance sports cause the release of so-called happiness hormones. These hormones have a positive effect on your well-being and alleviate your fears.
2. strengthening your independence:
At best, we set and achieve our self-imposed goals during every sporting activity. No matter how small these may be, this gives you a feeling of control and initiative. Most people often neglect that during depression.
3. increased self-confidence:
Those who exercise regularly become fitter and more agile. The figure changes, the body becomes firmer and more muscular. That can lead to a more positive image of oneself and increased self-confidence.
4. Time out from the carousel of thoughts:
When we jog, play tennis, cycle, or swim, we temporarily switch off and give our heads a break. That is especially advantageous for depressions. They are characterized by continually circling negative thoughts.
Further advantages can be the reduction of stress and tension. Also, you have the opportunity to socialize. That plays a vital role in sports.
Every physical activity is any exercise that trains your muscles. The physical activities include work, household, or leisure activities. Studies related to depression are also available on this topic.
They show that physical activities in the endurance range, pulse under 130, such as regular walking, can contribute to mood improvement.
You do not need any formal training programs. Just go to the garden and do gardening, wash your car, go around the block, or do other less intensive activities.
Each physical activity that gets you out of your chair and into motion will improve your mood.
As a trainer, I’m talking about 5 minutes that you need during training to boost your circulation. Then exercise is fun.
Physical activity and exercise are not the same. But both have a positive effect on your health.
The word “exercise” might remind you of gym class. Training covers a broader range of activities. Exercises are designed to increase your level of activity and help you feel better.
Definition: The exercise is a planned, structured, and repetitive body movement to improve or maintain physical fitness.
Running, lifting weights, playing basketball, and other fitness activities that increase your heart rate can help.
An Aerobic Examination
If you do aerobics regularly, whether, at home or the gym, your general tension level will drop, and your mood will improve. You will become more balanced and stabilized. Your sleep and self-esteem will also improve. About five minutes of aerobic training is enough to minimize your anxiety.
Why exercise helps with depression as a part of healing therapy
According to some studies, regular training and “taking medication” is sufficient for some people to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression significantly. The positive effects can last for a long time.
Intensive and sustained training can help relieve symptoms for hours, if not days. If you do this regularly, the symptoms can decrease significantly over time.
How can you become active?
Even a single movement can have a positive effect on your mood. Still, if you will live without your depression, you have to exercise regularly. That is a difficult task even in a healthy state, but twice and three times as severe during the depression.
A trick to overcome:
Sign up in a studio or make friends with a friend for a workout.
This way, you increase your pressure to go there, especially if you have to pay for the course.
Doing sports together
Community sports have the advantage that you can meet other people and get out of your cave. In depression, you’ve probably buried yourself in it in the last few weeks.
In a gym, you have the opportunity to meet new people, and you can experience community and support.
When choosing the sport, anything that is fun is allowed. According to some studies, endurance sports are particularly effective against depression.
But if you don’t like swimming, running or cycling, try Zumba, tap dancing or beach volleyball.
Because only if you enjoy it will you stay on the ball in the long run.
Sports in everyday life
Of course, you can also integrate movement into your everyday life at any time! How about to prepare your garden for the summer or take a daily walk around the block?
Because that’s the beauty of it: sport costs little or no money and has virtually no undesirable side effects if you do it right. What better way to get started in your fight against depression than by exercising two to three times a week from now on?
Why exercise helps with depression conclusion:
Using sport against depression works. Practices have proven to be an effective antidepressant, especially for mild to moderate depression.
If you suffer from severe depression, the practice also makes sense. In this case, however, you should go to a psychiatrist or therapist also.