5 Reasons Why Exercise Can Help Depression

Oct 24, 2011
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While the many benefits of physical activity have long been praised, studies are just beginning to show that exercise can have a positive effect on those who suffer from depression. One notable study was performed by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Those with depression aged 18-70 were put through various 12-week exercise regimens. Almost 30% of all participants experienced full remission, while another 20% reported a significant improvement.

How did they achieve such encouraging results? Here are five proven ways that exercise can help fight depression.

1. Brain Boost – One of the most important benefits of exercise is that it helps the brain release neurotransmitters and endorphins, which reduce pain and improve the mood.

2. Confidence – Meeting exercise goals can help a person gain confidence in their abilities. Even small goals, such as being able to run for an extra minute or lift 1 pound heavier than before, can boost self-esteem.

3. Control – Exercising helps depression sufferers reestablish control in their lives. They can decide where, when, and how much to exercise, as well as the type of exercise to do. This sense of control will increase feelings of confidence and security.

4. Better Sleep – Insomnia is one of depression’s difficult symptoms. Exercise can be a healthy alternative to sleeping pills, as it helps a person get to sleep faster and sleep more deeply through the night. Working out in the afternoon is best – the body’s temperature drops five to six hours after exercise, which encourages sleep.

5. Social Interaction – Exercise provides a chance to interact with others, which is another way to fight depression. Whether playing a sport with friends or meeting people while walking in the park, exercise provides many opportunities for social interaction.

Author: Patricia Duggan