Depression, Anxiety & Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know that exercise may help you manage anxiety and reduce the effects of depression? People who exercise regularly enjoy a greater feeling of well-being and may experience less anxiety and depression than people who do not exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise causes the brain to release neurotransmitters and endorphins that help ease the symptoms of depression. In addition to the feel-good brain chemicals (endorphins and neurotransmitters), exercise increases your body temperature which, according to the Mayo Clinic, may help to calm you. Exercise also reduces the immune system chemicals in your body that can exacerbate symptoms of depression.  Once you begin to see the physical benefits of exercise, such as strengthening your muscles and losing weight, you will also feel better about your physical appearance which will also help to lessen some types of anxiety and depression.

Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or work out on the treadmill or elliptical. Any physical activity that gets your blood pumping and causes you to break a sweat is good exercise. Even mowing the law, gardening and other types of yard work, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow, counts as exercise. Even casual exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes every other day, may help you realize less anxiety and improvement in your depression. Improving your diet to include healthy foods such as vegetables and low-fat foods and exercising three to five days each week may have a significant effect on your physical appearance as well as your mood. You don’t have to exercise for a full 30 minutes at any one time. You can exercise in short 10- to 15-minute intervals 2 to 3 times in a day.

Finally, select activities that you enjoy. If you like to play sports,   join your company’s softball or bowling league. Finding a friend for 20 to 30 minutes of handball, racquetball, basketball or tennis two times each week can be a tremendous boost to your mood. You’ll also enjoy the companionship and socializing associated with team sports. Nature lovers might enjoy a walk in a park or for the more adventurous, hiking a nature trail. Swimming is a good way to get exercise and lessen the impact on your joints. Whatever you decide to do, do something fun and stick with it. Soon you should begin to enjoy the many benefits of exercise.

Don’t Make Excuses! Exercise!


It can be difficult to overcome excuses not to exercise. You know you should get moving. You know that people who exercise regularly are healthier and less likely to develop diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You have also heard that people who exercise are usually happier and sleep better than people who rarely or never exercise. You need at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Walking, jogging, riding a bicycle or even doing work around the house, such as mowing the lawn, are good ways to exercise. What’s your excuse for not exercising? Here are some tips about overcoming excuses so you can get moving and get fitter.

You may say that you don’t have time to exercise. A busy lifestyle with work, kids, social commitments and duties does not have to prevent you from exercising regularly. A few minor adjustments to your lifestyle can help provide ample time to workout. Three days each week, trade your television time for exercise time. Instead of spending an hour in front of the television, workout for 30 minutes or go for a brisk walk before or after your favorite television program. You don’t have to exercise for 30 straight minutes. Break up your workout into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day. Ride a bicycle to work or walk if you can. Park your car a couple of blocks from work and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

You may put off exercising because you think it’s boring to trudge along on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike for 30 minutes. Exercise does not have to be boring. Do the kinds of activities you like to do or try something new. Music lovers can take a dance class, such as salsa or ballroom dancing. Take tennis lessons or join a dance aerobics group. Start a walking group with your best friends or co-workers. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Working out with a group is a great way to spend time with old friends or make new friends.

You probably feel tired after a long day at work. You may be tempted to put up your feet and zone out in front of the television for a couple of hours instead of exercising. Exercise will actually help you feel stronger and more energized. Exercise increases your heart rate and your respiration to move more oxygen through your body. Your brain will release hormones called endorphins, which will help improve your mood. You will feel better physically and emotionally after a good workout.

Exercise For Your Mind & Body

Photo Credit: Scott Meltzer PD

Regular exercise, combined with a healthy, nutritious diet, can help keep your body  strong, lean and fit. Did you know that exercise is also good for your mental health? Exercise and a fit body helps improve your self-esteem, your confidence and can help you feel more in control of your life. People who exercise on a regular basis are less prone to suffer from anxiety, depression and they handle stress better than people who do not exercise regularly. Sometimes it’s difficult to get up and start exercising when you feel anxious or depressed., but you will feel better almost as soon as you start exercising. During exercise, the brain releases endorphins that help reduce pain and promote a feeling of well-being. Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of people. Exercise alone is not a quick-fix for depression, but it can help you deal with your symptoms. Once you get your depression symptoms under control, exercise may help prevent depression symptoms from returning. Follow your doctor’s advice about medication, lifestyle changes and exercise. How can you get started with exercise if you are or have been depressed or feeling anxious? It’s easier than you think.
Begin slowly. If you have been sedentary for years and rarely exercised, see your doctor for a physical checkup before beginning an exercise regimen. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, gradually increase your physical activity until you can do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Forget trying to run a marathon after your first week. Set realistic goals and build on your increasing strength and endurance. Start by walking 10 to 15 minutes every other day and increase by a few minutes every week until you can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. You can walk outdoors in your neighborhood, in a park or at the gym on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter where you walk, just as long as you do it. As you begin to get more fit, lose weight and get stronger, you will start to feel better both physically and mentally. 

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