Around 300 million people suffer from depression globally. Many more of us suffer from depression that goes undiagnosed. The effects can be debilitating as normal everyday things like getting out of bed, running errands or going to work become extremely difficult to do.
The feeling of not wanting to engage in any activity or with anyone can last for days, weeks and even months. It’s one of the most prevalent disabilities of our time.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to help you manage depression. You can speak to your doctor or engage with a therapist. Both are highly effective in helping people beat it and take back control of their mental health.
Having said that, one of the most effective methods used by people battling depression is exercise. Exercise is good for the body and good for the mind which is why so many health professionals recommend it.
So, what is it about exercise that has everybody so excited?
1. It Releases Feel-Good Hormones
When you exercise, the brain releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins are produced by the body as a natural response to stress and pain. They work together with other hormones like serotonin to elevate your mood and enhance your sense of wellbeing.
You can get the body to release endorphins by laughing more or even eating chocolate. But the to get a really intense endorphin hit, exercising for 30-45 minutes is the best way forward. Even 15 minutes of hard exercise a few times a week will make a huge difference.
One of the benefits is that you get your body used to responding to stress by releasing natural chemicals from the brain. The less active you are, the less practice your body gets at engaging its natural stress reducing mechanism. Exercise helps your body to recognise stress and actively do something about it, making your body more effective at handling stress overall. In other words, life doesn’t seem like such a struggle; great news when you’re suffering from depression.
2. It Boosts Your Confidence
People with depression often suffer with low self-esteem and a distorted view of their intrinsic value as a person. When you make a habit of exercising, you’ll begin to hit milestones and see progress. Your body might start to look different and feel stronger. You’ll be able to see that you’re able to do things you might not have been able to do before.
The result is that you’ll get a huge confidence boost and start feeling really good about yourself and your ability to do something awesome!
3. It Breaks Negative Mental Cycles
If you suffer from depression, you’ll often find yourself a victim of a lot of negative mental cycles. Interrupting bad thoughts going round and round in your head can be a real challenge especially when they’re really intense. Exercise is a great way to take your focus away from negative thinking and focus on the present.
Just stepping out the door, and going for a walk to get some fresh air will help to interrupt those negative cycles and give you a break.
4. You Can Do What You Enjoy
There are so many different ways to exercise that you can choose from. You can go dancing, you can go for a walk, you can do workout videos. You can get a personal trainer and go to the gym. You can try weightlifting, which is a great way to track progress or cycling. There are fitness apps you can download on your phone as well. In other words; exercise is for everybody.
Do a little research and think about what you really enjoy. Don’t be scared to try new things either; you don’t need to be a professional, it just needs to be fun!
5. You Can Meet New People
Being depressed often goes hand-in-hand with feeling isolated. Exercise is a great way to bring people together so that you can meet different people. You can make new friends just by joining team activities like a running group, a football team or a netball team. If a team sport seems overwhelming, just some 1-1 time with a gym buddy or a trainer is enough of a positive interaction to really boost your mood.
Exercise doesn’t get enough credit for the hugely positive impact it can have on people suffering from depression. Whatever treatment route you decide to go down, it’s always worth remembering that exercise can help.
To find out a bit more about how exercise can help you manage your mental health, or any other disabilities, contact us here. We’re always happy to help!