How Daily Exercise Can Treat Depression

How Daily Exercise Can Treat Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 9% of American adults live with depression. In addition, a Major Depressive Episode is the leading cause of disability for Americans ages 15 to 44. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe depressive symptoms. While helpful, these medications can also produce uncomfortable side effects – headaches, nausea, sleep disturbance, stomach upset, sexual problems, weight gain – which can make folks who are depressed feel worse.

Exercise Helps Beat Depression Naturally

Research exploring exercise as a possible intervention for depression has found exercise to be an effective treatment for depression. Regular exercise can even protect against the onset of depressive symptoms. Some research has found exercise to be as effective a treatment for depression as medication.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and releases endorphins – the body’s natural antidepressant. Exercise also releases other neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which lift mood.

Moderate exercise three times weekly can begin to produce this antidepressant benefit.

Getting Started

Below are a several ideas with which to begin a routine of regular physical activity.

1. Walk Your Dog

Take your dog for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Not only will your body release endorphins, but your dog’s health will benefit from routine exercise.

2. Go For A Bike Ride

Family bike rides can be a fun way to bond and exercise at the same time. If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor biking, a stationary bike could be a good investment.

3. Swim

Swimming is a full body physical activity. In addition, steady movement through water can itself be calming.

4. Exercise During Lunch

Grab a few friends or colleagues on your lunch break and go for a half-hour walk.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or complicated; instead, identify a physical activity you enjoy and commit to doing it three times weekly to evaluate if you begin to experience improved mood.

Working with a skilled, experienced psychologist, therapist, or counselor can also be helpful. If you are interested in therapy to explore your relationship with your self, your mood, and physical activity, I invite you to call or email me to get started working together. Telehealth appointments are available.

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