If you’re struggling with depression, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. Even if you lack the energy and motivation to get up and get out, it’s one of the best things you can do to help your depression. Exercise has both physical and mental benefits for treating depression, and finding a way to work it into your daily life could have fantastic results.
Physical Effects of Exercise
One of the best arguments for exercise is the role of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that make you feel euphoric, improve your mood and help your mood stay regulated. The chemical high you get from endorphins can be enough to change your outlook for the day and make you feel more capable.
Depression can also affect your immune system, making it weaker and leading to the worsening of depression symptoms. Working out improves the immune system by getting rid of the toxic chemicals that increase depression.
Insomnia, a big part of weight gain caused by depression, can also be helped with exercise. Working out regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, which lets you sleep more restfully and wake more rested in the morning.
Mental Effects of Exercise
Exercise also alleviates the negative beliefs and thought patterns that depressed people endure. If you have depression, you may go through times when you believe you are a failure; setting exercise goals and meeting them boosts your self-esteem and makes you feel more capable of dealing with challenges. Additionally, losing weight could have the added benefit of making you feel good about your appearance.
If you feel overwhelmed with worry and sadness, exercise is one of the best ways to cope. It’s a healthy way of working through negative emotions and it can also be a nice distraction. Going for a walk or popping in a yoga DVD can help take your mind off your problems, clear your head and let you come back to your problems feeling refreshed. It might seem like distracting yourself is an unhealthy way of dealing with problems, but nothing could be further from the truth. Taking a break from the problems that crowd your mind gives your subconscious time to work on them, and by the time you come back to those problems, you may see a new solution that you couldn’t see before.
How to Get the Most Out of Exercise
Studies show that most types of exercise are effective at treating depression, so it’s important to pick one that you enjoy doing. If you enjoy relaxation, try a yoga class; if sweating gets you pumped up and energized, start running. The most important thing is to enjoy the exercise you do, or else it will become another daily task that you dread. You want it to be something you enjoy so that you come back to it every day feeling revitalized and excited.
Raising your fitness level and exercising can help you feel better about yourself and your life. Find an exercise that you love and let it start working for you.