How exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety
Releasing feel-good endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones produced in the brain. They can help to alleviate pain, reduce stress and improve your mood. Their production is triggered by doing pleasurable things such as exercise, eating and sex.
Taking your mind off worries. Hitting the gym floor will have you focused on the exercises you’re performing; allowing worry to fade into the background and get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
Regular exercise has many mental health and emotional benefits too. It can help you:
- Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape also can make you feel better about how you look.
- Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just sharing a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
- Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
How do I get started — and stay with it?
Starting and sticking with an exercise routine or regular physical activity can be a challenge. These steps can help:
Find what you enjoy doing. Figure out what type of physical activities you’re most likely to do. Then think about when and how you’d be most likely to follow through. For example, would you be more likely to do some gardening in the evening, start your day with a jog, or go for a bike ride or play basketball with your children after school? Doing what you enjoy can help you stick with it.
Get your healthcare professional’s support. Talk to your healthcare professional or mental health professional for suggestions and support. Talk about an exercise program or physical activity routine and how it fits into your overall treatment plan.
Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn’t have to be walking for an hour five days a week. Think realistically about what you may be able to do. Then begin slowly and build up over time. Make your plan fit your own needs and abilities rather than setting goals that you’re not likely to meet.
Don’t think of exercise or physical activity as a chore. If exercise is just another “should” in your life that you don’t think you’re living up to, you’ll think of it as a failure. Instead, look at your exercise or physical activity schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or medicine — as one of the tools to help you get better.
Think about what keeps you from being successful. Figure out what’s stopping you from being physically active or exercising. If you think about what’s stopping you, you can probably find a solution. For example, if you feel self-conscious, you may want to exercise at home. If you stick to goals better with a partner, find a friend to work out with or who enjoys the same physical activities that you do. If you don’t have money to spend on exercise gear, do something that’s cost-free, such as regular walking.
Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. If you skip exercise one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up an exercise routine and might as well quit. Just try again the next day. Stick with it.
If you don’t know where to start consult with a coach. Fitness professionals are training in much more than exercise. They can help you design a clear roadmap on how to get you moving toward your goals. We happen to know a few 😉 Click the link below to book your free consultation to start your journey.