One of the most common mental health problems is depression, which can lead to serious consequences if not dealt with in time. Focusing on your physical health is as important as taking care of your mental health, but sadly many of us tend to ignore the latter. When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do, but the fact is that exercise can make a big difference, especially for people with mild to moderate depression.
While exercise certainly isn’t a depression cure-all and seeking professional medical help is of utmost importance, various studies show that heart-pumping, endorphin-boosting workouts actually promote happiness, reduce stress and also help you sleep better at night. According to recent researches, physical activity, specifically resistance training, like weight-lifting can reduce symptoms of depression, perhaps even as effectively as conventional treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and medication for some people. Other studies have found that virtually any type of workout, from cardio to yoga, can lessen depressive symptoms.
Instep lists down some exercises that can help in alleviating depression.
Aerobic and cardio exercises
When it comes to workouts that fight depression, aerobic and cardio exercises have the edge and experts recommend you exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week. The euphoria you feel after doing aerobics and cardio is due to the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are our body’s natural morphine and, when released by special glands in our brains, they can produce a sense of well-being or joy and also decrease pain levels.
It is all about boosting your strength. A strength training program includes lifting weights, using resistance bands and using your body weight for resistance, by doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, leg squats or push-ups against a wall. But remember, strength training is about mastery and control; it requires full attention and concentration. Besides reducing the symptoms of depression, strength training improves joint function, bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength. Just be sure to start slowly and use the assistance of a personal trainer if needed.
According to experts, eastern traditions such as yoga have a wonderful antidepressant effect especially on those who suffer from depression and anxiety. This gentle art of exercise increases flexibility and involves mindfulness, which not only breaks up repetitive negative thoughts but increases strength as well. By practicing yoga on a regular basis you will have a calmer state of mind along with improved balance.
Did you know that brisk walking may be the trick to feeling better? Walking is an aerobic exercise that’s suited for almost everyone. All it takes is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes, and you’re ready to go. Practical wisdom suggests that doing something is better than doing nothing in terms of physical activity. If depression has made you sedentary, start off slowly and gradually increase time and distance.
Not too keen on hitting the gym or going for a walk? Well if you enjoy being outdoors, even simple activities such as gardening or throwing a ball around with your kids may do you some good. That’s because a healthy dose of sunlight has been shown to boost mood. All you need to do is just move your body. Choose whatever works for you, depending on your functioning level, energy, and preferences.