(USA Features Media) For a person with depression and anxiety, exercise may seem like something that is hard to include in an already difficult life. Depression often results in a lack of energy and increased feelings of tiredness, so the thought of getting ready, out the door, and exercising might seem overwhelming. However, exercise has been proven to be beneficial to mood and to help ease the symptoms of depression.
Research done at Michigan State University compared a group of non-exercising depressed women against a group of depressed women that exercised for thirty minutes two times per week. Inventories taken at three weeks and at the end of the nine week program showed that the women who exercised had a significant reduction in depression symptoms. The women who did not exercise had no change in their depression symptoms.
Research shows that regular exercise helps decrease feelings of depression and anxiety, improves sleep, and reduces stress. During exercise the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are a “feel good” chemical. They act as an analgesic to reduce the perception of pain and also elicit a calming effect on the body. In addition to these emotional benefits you also receive the physical benefits of exercise such as strengthening your cardiovascular system, weight loss, decreased risk of diabetes, and many others.
Starting out with even small amounts of activity, a 10 minute walk for example, can improve mood. Increasing activity to 30 minutes three to five days a week has been shown to greatly reduce depression symptoms. A structured exercise program isn’t necessary – any activity that elevates heart rate is beneficial. Walking, gardening, golfing, dancing, and even vigorous housework are all examples of moderate exercise that can help. Forming an exercise support system is helpful both to stick to an exercise program and build relationships that are important in helping depression. Some people find that joining a group exercise class or walking with a friend helps greatly.
When starting an exercise program consider factors that will increase your chances of being consistent. Choose an activity you love; if you don’t enjoy the exercise you are doing it is much more likely that you will not stick with it. Schedule exercise into your day and make it just as important as any other appointment. Make sure that you schedule your exercise session during a time when you feel most energetic; if you are not a morning person don’t schedule yourself for an early morning walk.
By Sheryl Walters, Natural News.
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