Did you know that exercise can improve more than just physical health?
Yes, they help to feel good not only physically but also mentally.
Since ancient times, mental disorders have developed a more biased attitude than physical ailments. However, as empathy, openness, and understanding grow, the effectiveness of the efforts of professionals in solving mental health problems increases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a major cause of disability worldwide. But there is still no single effective treatment for depression - even though the number of those who suffer from it has grown over the years. Most often, medications are used to treat the disorder (antidepressants - mainly drugs from the group of serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or psychotherapy: but neither one nor the other helps absolutely everyone.
Finding alternative therapies is therefore very important, and in recent years researchers have paid close attention to lifestyle habits and how they can be changed to relieve symptoms. Now experts believe that exercise is a simpler and more affordable treatment to solve this problem, and it is as effective as taking antidepressants.
How does exercise help in depression?
According to the scientific evidence available, exercise can have a positive effect on mental health in a variety of ways.
Improves Brain Health
Exercise is good for your brain. It reduces the risk factors for mental disorders (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, various inflammations).
Moreover, due to the increase in blood circulation, the body is saturated with energy and nutrients. It is worth noting that depression and other mental disorders are directly related to physical inactivity, while physical activity reduces the risk of mental health disorders.
Increases Stress Resistance
Exercise is also a kind of stress, so systematic exercise increases resistance to other types of emotional and physical stress. As a result, the acquired resistance to stress from physical exertion contributes to better adaptation of a person in a difficult situation.
Increases Self Efficacy
People who acquire new training skills increase their self-efficacy. This, in turn, leads to self-confidence and good self-esteem. Increased self-efficacy is a prerequisite for mental well-being, compared with low self-esteem, which plays an indirect role in developing disorders.
Makes Us Happy
During sports activities, the body produces - endorphins, natural antidepressants. Endorphins (chemical compounds similar in structure to opiates, which are naturally produced in the neurons of the brain) lead a person into a state of euphoria. For this reason, this hormone is often called the "hormone of happiness" or "the hormone of joy."
Develops Social Contacts
It is a well-known fact that social interaction and communication improve a person's mood and condition. And training often takes place in some kind of company or with the support of loved ones. Support also has the ability to improve mood.
Distracts From Obsessive Unpleasant Thoughts
People who experience depression and anxiety tend to focus on their own thoughts about it. Physical activity is just what can help to distract from them, redirect attention to pleasant experiences "here and now." Moreover, systematic physical activity can help anxious people learn to be involved in other areas of life, not to avoid them.
Sports and Exercises for Depression
Here is a list of sports and exercises that help you to cope with depression"
- A ride on the bicycle,
- Walking or brisk walking,
- Recreational running for short distances,
- Morning or evening exercises,
- Aerobics classes of average difficulty,
- Fitness classes in the gym,
- Aqua aerobics,
- Any cardio workout (even running in place and jumping rope).
For some, triathlon, bodybuilding, powerlifting or cross-fit classes are suitable. This is individual. Choose what you like and enjoy. After all, it is important to cheer yourself up and feel a surge of strength.
How To Get Started?
How often do you need to exercise to relieve stress and improve your mood? Morning exercises and yoga can be done every day. The same applies to walks.
If training requires exertion (aerobics, gym, running, swimming, etc.) - two or three times a week, give the training 30-60 minutes. Because the body needs rest, it doesn't need to train too much - this is one of the typical mistakes beginner athletes make.
Try to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, three times a week. Start doing exercises from 20 minutes, gradually increasing the time to 30, and then to 40, and up to 60 minutes. When you get used to sports, and they turn into a habit for you, you can change the time and set of exercises for more convenience and interest (training should not be boring).
How Much Exercise Is Enough
Any exercise can help relieve the symptoms of depression and stress, even if it is jumping in place. The main thing is that you like them, and you do not force yourself to do them. You may have to give yourself a boost at first, but then you will enjoy the training.
You must set goals for yourself. For example: swim 300 meters, walk 5 kilometers, be able to do 10 pull-ups or push-ups. Yes, these are small goals, and they are achievable. Every time it is a victory, and victory is the motivation not to give up and move on.
Important! If you are over 50, or if you have diabetes or heart disease, or bone problems and joints before the training, consult your physician.