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Usually exercising is the last thing anyone wants to do when feeling depression symptoms, but exercise has been shown to be effective in alleviating the disorder. For years, doctors have been touting the benefits of exercise in treating such health problems as high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Recent studies have shown, however, that exercise can also help reduce depression symptoms and anxiety, as people who are active are less likely to be depressed.
When people exercise, their bodies release chemicals called endorphins, which act as analgesics, meaning they block feelings of pain. Endorphins also act as sedatives and create a euphoric feeling, sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.” These chemicals are produced in the brain, spinal cord and throughout other parts of the body and are released by cues from the brain. Exercise may also help reduce immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
Besides the positive biological effects of exercise, there are also psychological benefits.Exercising can provide a feeling of accomplishment after reaching certain goals. To help with this, keeping a log of goals and progress is suggested. Even attaining small goals in exercise can help boost someone’s self confidence. Improving the body’s shape by getting fit can also help raise confidence.
Studies have shown that people suffering from depression can find relief by keeping a log of their progress. Getting out and exercising will also provide an opportunity for more social interaction, which might reduce symptoms of depression. Joining an exercise class or working out with a close friend will provide additional social comfort.
While the links between exercise and reduced depression and anxiety are not completely clear, it seems apparent that going from no exercise to moderate exercise has its benefits. Experts suggest no less than 30 minutes of movement each day. Overdoing it can lead to physical ailments such as sore muscles and even exhaustion. A study done in 2009 that looked at depression in those 20 and younger showed no additional benefits from more intensive exercise.
Many different forms of exercise can be used to help with depression. Most studies have concentrated on aerobic activities, such as running, jogging, walking or bicycling. However, golfing, gardening, yard work, house work, yoga and dancing are other forms of exercise that can help. Weight training and strength exercises also work, but far less research has been done in this area than aerobic activity.
There are several ways to incorporate more exercise into your life without a training regimen. For example, park further away and walk to the store or take the stairs instead of using the elevator.Getting active is just one more weapon someone battling depression might use to win the fight. Before turning to prescription medications to alleviate symptoms of depression, try using natural techniques such as exercise.
Drawing upon our more than 30-year history of granting degrees in professional psychology, Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning. Because getting a degree is one thing. Succeeding, quite another.
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