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The Impact of Exercise on Depression and Anxiety

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

Scientists and researchers today agree, overwhelmingly, that physical activity and exercise can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, and has many benefits that lead to the improvement of mood states. Early studies into this area lacked convincing evidence of such a fact, but there now exists a growing gamut of reliable research to support it. Most scientists and health experts maintain, with support of overwhelming evidence that regular exercise has a positive effect upon physical and psychological variables associated with good health such as mood, blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism.

The terms “exercise” and “physical activity” should not limit readers to notions of weightlifting, sports, or running laps. In fact, yoga, walking, gardening, and any other activity that will get an individual up and active can be equally as beneficial to overall physical and emotional strength. Regular activity has been proven to reduce stress, ward off feelings of anxiety, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep habits. Thus, the added health benefits of daily exercise are not paralleled by medication or psychiatric treatments, but individuals should not expect exercise to be an immediate “cure”. Some of these health benefits include a strengthened heart, increased energy levels, improved muscle tone and strength, reduced body fat, better confidence, and so on.

It is important to keep in mind that suddenly intensifying a workout, which is more extraneous and competitive than a participant’s usual routines, may have negative effects on mood, depression, and anxiety. It is the consistent participation of moderate exercise that is most likely to improve those variables, and even five minutes of aerobic or cardio exercise on a regular schedule can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

Social interaction from partaking in group-related exercises can be instrumental in overcoming depression or anxiety and reducing worry as well. Below are some examples of moderate exercise activities that can lead to social interaction, help stimulate endorphins and neurotransmitters, reduce immune system chemicals, and increase overall daily confidence – all leading to better overall mood states.

Biking, dancing, golf, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, walking or jogging, low-impact aerobics, playing tennis, swimming, yard work, skiing, yoga, and other exercises can lead to a dramatic improvement in mental health over time.

While regular exercise, as stated above, has proven to have positive effects on depression and anxiety, a mental health professional or Psychiatrist should always be consulted when addressing issues relating to depression and anxiety. Prior to beginning an exercise program individuals should consult their medical professional. Choices Psychotherapy in Minneapolis, MN, has the passion and experience required to treat individuals suffering from a wide range of mental health concerns. contact Choices Psychotherapy in Minneapolis MN.