Exercise and Depression
When you’re depressed, sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed, nevermind even thinking about exercising! When you just want to pull the covers over your head and wait for tomorrow hoping it will be better, running around the block or heading for the gym are not top on your list of favorite things to do. Exercise and depression…I think not…
Ironically, when you’re depressed, you tend to want to do things that are not necessarily going to make you feel better (at least I did). Things like being sedentary and eating sugar and carby foods that gave me a few moments of comfort and feel-good taste-wise were things I would turn to.
There are studies going back to the early 1980s that concluded that regular exercise could help people struggling with mild to moderate depression feel better. It was even shown that exercise had some positive effects on people with severe depression as well.
Other studies conducted in the 1990s concluded that for those who need or wish to avoid drugs to treat their depression, exercise might be an acceptable substitute for antidepressants and that the effects of exercise last longer than the effects of antidepressants. After one of the 1990’s studies, researchers followed up with the subjects six months later and found that the people who exercised regularly after completing the study, were less likely to become depressed again.
Why does exercise help with depression? Exercise is believed to stimulate the production of endorphins which are chemicals in the body that improve our mood as well as to stimulate the production of norepinephrine which is a neurotransmitter believed to directly improve our mood.
One thing is clear, you need to do more than take a slow sauntering walk for 15 minutes. Get out and move!
Currently, I am keeping my promise to myself to go to the gym twice a week. I know it should be three times, but I’m really trying to keep my word to myself and set myself up for success rather than for failure. If I stay on track with 2 times a week, first of all, it’s better than not going at all; and second, I’m more likely to increase to 3 times a week in the future.
I know he challenge of moving when you’re depressed and you want to crawl into bed still looms large. For me, changing how I ate so I felt better really gave me the ability to make other good changes in my life like exercising regularly that all keep me moving in a good direction.
Helping you achieve Major Wellness in your life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC