Exercising regularly to relieve depression
Many people have learned for themselves to keep depression at bay through regular exercise. They know that they continue to feel good if they exercise regularly and that their mood soon plummets if they cannot do so. They may not know that this is because exercise may increase levels of mood-raising endorphins in the brain.
Exercise is now so widely recognized to be beneficial, that some depressed patients are given vouchers for leisure centers on the NHS so that they can take regular exercise at aerobic classes or swimming. As well as being beneficial for depression, exercise also relieves anxiety, a common component of depression.
Walking and swimming are the best all-round forms of exercise and may be the easiest to incorporate into a busy life. However, many other forms of exercise, from dancing to yoga, may prove appealing.
For how long?
A brisk walk in the fresh air for 30-60 minutes every day will do much to keep you fit and happy. If you can do some sort of vigorous exercise three to five times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a session, you are sure to feel better, both mentally and physically. Good air quality and sunlight will increase the benefits of the exercise that you decide upon. Outdoor exercise of any type is ideal for banishing sluggishness and for getting good fresh oxygen into your lungs.
You may say, I don’t have time, I don’t have the right equipment, I can’t afford it. However, there is always a solution to every problem – in this case, walking. You don’t need any special equipment, it doesn’t cost anything, and you can easily incorporate extra walking into your daily life. Get off the bus or train one stop earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way home. Park your car some distance away from where you are going and walk the rest of the journey. Never take a lift, always walk. Test the treatment yourself by taking a walk in fresh air five times a week for four weeks. Then cut out your daily walk for four weeks. Write down in a diary how you feel at the end of each week for the full eight weeks.
One of the early signs of depression is a reclusive tendency in which you no longer want to see friends or join in social activities. Many forms of exercise and sport are sociable and friendly and this is of undoubted value if you suffer from depression.
Key Facts: Sun, light and good air quality are essential for optimum mental and physical health. Endorphins, the feel good hormones are released during exercise and continue to make us feel good for some time after the exercise has stopped. Try to walk for up to an hour each day and to take regular vigorous exercise several times a week. Do not let yourself invent excuses to avoid taking exercise.