Depression is a common mental health disorder that causes persistent sadness, loss of interest, low motivation, and hopelessness. According to statistics, depression affects over 17 million American adults every year.
While there are various proven treatment options available, such as therapy and medication, research shows that exercising regularly can be an effective complementary treatment for depression. Below is a rundown of exercises that can help manage depression symptoms.
1. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, involves activities that increase your heart rate and breathing. Examples include running, swimming, and cycling. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression by increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which can improve mood and decrease anxiety.
Cardiovascular exercises also release endorphins, the body’s “feel good” hormones – which help improve mood and reduce stress levels. Furthermore, aerobic exercise can promote sleep quality which can be beneficial for those experiencing depression.
2. Strength Training
Strength training is the use of resistance exercises to build muscle strength and endurance. Examples include weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, and resistance band exercises. Strength training has been found to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and increase self-esteem.
Strength training can also help fight fatigue and boost energy levels – which are common symptoms of depression.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Studies have shown that yoga can be beneficial in reducing symptoms of depression by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that can help regulate mood.
Additionally, practicing yoga can help promote body and mind relaxation, effectively alleviating stress and tension associated with depression.
Dancing is a fun and enjoyable exercise that combines two aspects of fitting depression: music and cardiovascular exercise.
Research has shown that music can stimulate the brain to release happy hormones like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which can help boost mood in people with depression.
Additionally, dancing is a form of aerobic exercise that can help reduce stress levels, promote relaxation, and enhance overall wellness.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Taking regular walks in nature can be especially beneficial for those with depression, as research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress and improve mood.
Sunshine exposure during your routine walks can also stimulate the production of vitamin D, a vital nutrient that supports mood and emotional regulation.
6. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is an age-old Chinese martial art that combines slow and graceful movements with deep breathing and mindfulness techniques to calm the mind and body. It is considered a form of “moving meditation,” and according to modern-day research, the practice of Tai Chi can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase self-awareness and promote overall relaxation.
When done in moderation, regular exercise can prove to be an effective tool for managing depression. Exercising can help reduce stress levels, boost energy levels and self-esteem, improve mood, and promote better sleep quality, among other benefits.
The secret is to find an exercise that you enjoy and that makes you feel good and make it part of your daily routine. Remember to start slow, listen to your body, and be patient – it may take some time before you start to see improvement in your symptoms.