Experience helps to improve and prevent many different health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Research on exercise, anxiety, and depression shows that the physical and psychological benefits of exercise also can help to reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
It is not completely clear what the links are between exercise, anxiety, and depression – however, working out and other types of physical activity definitely can ease anxiety or depression symptoms and help you feel better. Exercise also can help to keep anxiety and depression from returning after you start to feel better.
What does exercise do to help anxiety and depression?
Regular exercise might help to ease anxiety and depression by:
Feel-good endorphins are released, which are natural cannabis-like chemicals in the brain (endogenous cannabinoids) as well as other natural brain chemicals that help to enhance your overall feeling of well-being
Takes your mind off of things that are worrying you so you can get out of the cycle of negative thoughts that work to feed your anxiety and depression
There are many emotional and psychological benefits that are offered by regular exercise. It can help:
Give your confidence a boost. Meeting challenges or exercise goals, including small ones, can give your self-confidence a boost. When you get into shape, it can also make you feel much better about the way you look.
Increases your social interaction. Physical activity and exercise can give you the opportunity to socialize and meet other people. Simply exchanging a greeting or smile while you are walking around the neighborhood can give your mood a boost.
Cope in healthy ways. It is a very healthy coping strategy to do something positive to manage anxiety or depression. If you try to feel better by hoping your anxiety or depression will away by itself, dwelling on your feelings, or by drinking alcohol, can all lead to your symptoms getting worse instead of better.
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Is the only option a structured exercise program?
It has been shown by research that physical activity like walking on a regular basis – and not only formal exercise programs – can help to improve mood. Exercise and physical activity are not the exact same thing. However, they can both benefit your health.
Physical activity refers to any activity that requires energy and works your muscles and may include leisure activities, household tasks or work.
Exercise is a repetitive, structured, and planned body movement that is done to maintain or improve physical fitness.
When you hear the word “exercise” you might think of running laps at the track. However, exercise also includes a broad range of different activities that can help to boost your level of activity to help you feel much better.
Definitely, basketball, lifting weights, runnings, and other forms of fitness activities that get your heart to pump can be helpful. However, so can other types of physical activity like walking around the neighborhood, washing your car, gardening, or other activities that are less intense. Any physical activity which helps to get off of your couch and moving around can give your mood a boost.
You don’t need to do all of your physical activity or exercise at the same time. Think about exercise in a broader way and find other ways to add in other physical activity over the course of the day. For example, instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs instead. Park your car a bit farther away at work to get a short walk in. Or thinking about biking to work if you live nearby.