Depression is a mental illness that affects the lives of millions of people worldwide. It can be difficult to break out of this condition, but there are ways that can help. One of them is exercise. In this article, we will discuss how exercise can help with depression and what practical tips you should follow to get the most out of the benefits of exercise.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were once considered enjoyable. It can also lead to physical symptoms such as sleep disturbances and changes in appetite.
How can exercise help with depression?
Sports and physical activity have been shown to be effective remedies for depression. Here are some reasons why:
- Endorphins: During exercise, the body produces endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers and mood elevators. Endorphins can help reduce depressive symptoms and improve mood.
- Distraction: Exercise can provide a distraction from the negative thoughts and feelings associated with depression. It can also help increase self-confidence and self-esteem, which can help reduce symptoms.
- Social interaction: Exercise can also promote social interactions, which are important for feeling supported and connected. This can help reduce feelings of isolation that often accompany depression.
- Goal setting: Part of participating in sports is setting goals and working toward them. This can be especially beneficial for people with depression, as it gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Tips for successfully using exercise to combat depression
- Find an activity you enjoy: It's important to find an activity you enjoy so you can do it regularly.
- Make it part of your daily life: Try to schedule regular exercise times to make exercise a regular part of your day.
- Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals to experience a sense of accomplishment and motivate yourself.
- Look for support: look for a group or partner to stay motivated and encourage social interactions.
Several studies have examined the effects of exercise on depression. Mildly depressed students who participated in aerobic programs showed significant improvement in depressive state compared with those who did relaxation exercises or received no treatment. In a meta-analysis of 39 studies, researchers found that physical activity was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms (Schuch et al., 2016). Another study found that participation in a team sport over a period of at least 12 weeks was associated with significant improvement in depressive symptoms (Stathopoulou et al., 2006). In addition, a study of older adults found that participation in group exercise classes was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms (McAuley et al., 1994).
Exercise has been shown to have a significant positive impact on mental health, particularly in the treatment of depression. Physical activity, social interaction, goal setting, and distraction can all contribute to the therapeutic effects of sport. Given the numerous positive effects of sport on mental health, health care providers may consider sport as an effective therapy for people with depression.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on your workout clothes and get started on your new, more active lifestyle today!
McAuley, E., Blissmer, B., Katula, J., Duncan, T. E., & Mihalko, S. L. (1994). Physical activity, self-esteem, and self-efficacy relationships in older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 16(4)