How Exercise Can Help Alleviate Depression
If you are suffering from clinical depression, the prospect of getting out and being active may not be entirely appealing. Yet, as it turns out, one of the best things that you can do to help manage your depression is to exercise. While the exact science behind this phenomenon might not be entirely known, the consensus among the medical community is that working out and keeping active is one of the best ways to treat depression.
If you’ve ever heard of or experienced so-called “runner’s high,” then you can probably understand that exercise can cause a similarly uplifting feeling in those dealing with depression. Generally speaking, it is agreed that exercise can have two different types of impact on the body. For one, from a chemical standpoint, working out can raise the heart rate, accelerate the metabolism, and release endorphins into the brain that make an individual feel good. Frequent exercise is also said to improve the function of the immune system, which some believe can help the body manage depression.
From a psychological standpoint, exercise has a number of benefits that shouldn’t be neglected as well. For starters, the confidence that can be gained from getting into better shape, watching yourself become more athletic and strong, and feeling proud of your body can have a major impact on your overall mood. Working out is also an excellent distraction that can occupy you for an hour or two and give you something else to focus on than what is bothering you. If you lose yourself in your workout it can offer a nice reprieve and help put any problems in your life in perspective. Plus going to the gym, joining a team sport, or finding a partner to run with is a great social activity that can improve your mood.
Obviously, being depressed is more than just having a case of the blues and is a diagnosable medical condition and a serious illness. As a result, it would be a mistake to say that working out is all that it takes to treat depression. However, for some individuals, keeping active is a great way to manage depression as one component of a treatment regimen.